Grand jury rules in 2009 reckless conduct case

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A grand jury decided that there's not enough evidence against Coffee Bluff parents to indict them in connection with a 2009 New Year's Eve party they hosted at their home.

The Chatham County District Attorney's Office announced the decision Wednesday.

Kenneth J. Wilson and Lisa M. Wilson faced charges of reckless conduct, contributing to the delinquency of a minor or maintaining a disorderly house. They hosted a New Year's Eve party in 2009 at their Coffee Bluff-area home for their 18-year-old son.

Richard McAllaster, 15, left the party and drove a vehicle while intoxicated, according to the Chatham County Attorney's Office. Four hours after leaving the party, he was killed in a single-vehicle crash on Jan. 1, 2010 in Wilmington Island.

SCMPD officers interviewed with more than 50 people as part of the investigation. As the night went on, the party went from a few of Wilson's friends to 200 partiers from Savannah Christian Preparatory School, Benedictine Military School and other local high schools, investigators found. Police said minors brought, shared, and consumed alcohol during the party as well as played drinking games.

District Attorney Larry Chisolm said in a statement:

"After several reviews of the facts by senior staff in the DA's Office and myself, I made the decision to have the case sent to the Grand Jury for Special Presentment – on the issue of the conduct of the Wilson's for hosting a teen party that was replete with underage drinking. I do not believe that this was a case where the decision and review of the facts should rest with my office only, but a cross section of the community should be involved in reviewing the evidence. Had the Grand Jury found sufficient evidence to return a True Bill against the Wilsons, they would have been faced with the possibility of arrest and a possible maximum consecutive sentence of three (3) years to serve in custody and up to a $1,000 fine on each count, had they been found guilty in court. Although the Grand Jury did not indict the Wilsons, this case should be a strong reminder to parents in this community that either providing alcohol to minors or social hosting of teenage drinking (as was alleged in the case of the Wilsons) is serious and can have serious consequences. The Grand Jury's decision not to indict in this case is in no way an indication that the behavior of the Wilsons was acceptable, but is merely an indication that there was not enough evidence to arrest them. They may still have to answer questions in civil litigation."

Copyright 2011 WTOC. All rights reserved.