It took the jury less than two hours Friday to find Robbie Stone not guilty of two counts of vehicular homicide and three counts of serious injury by vehicle. He was found guilty only of reckless driving. That's a misdemeanor, with a maximum of 12 months behind bars. He'll be sentenced at a Thursday hearing.
"We hope that all the family members will come and make a statement as to what they think should happen to Mr. Stone in his sentencing," Assistant District Attorney Neil Morgan said in an interview outside the courthouse.
Six teens were piled into a small SUV when it flipped on Stillwell-Clyo Road in Effingham County in June 2010. Two 17-year-olds died in the 2010 wreck, Neil Morgan and Whitney Newman. Stone and all five of his passengers were thrown from the Chevy Tracker when it flipped. Two of the survivors took the stand Friday.
"Whitney was basically on the end of the car," passenger Amanda Duff said. "It was a topless car. So she was just basically sitting on the edge with her arms around my neck and her legs thrown over me so she wouldn't lose her balance."
The prosecution argued that Stone -- although sober – packed the SUV and drove with reckless disregard for his five passengers.
"I remember Lindsay (Buchanan, a passenger) turned to both me and Kristen and said 'You just have to trust him. You just have to trust him,'" Duff testified. "And at that point, right after that, the next thing I remember is just laying on the ground."
But the defense's argument was that Neil Morgan was drunk and distracting Stone.
"As soon as Neil started trying to crawl out of the window and things like that, that's when we started swerving a little bit," Duff said.
One witness -- Kristin Westenbarger -- broke down on the stand as she remembered the moments before the deadly crash.
"Lindsay said, ‘Chill.' And then you were waking up after the wreck happened. Is that correct?" an attorney asked her.
She choked out a "yes" before grabbing a tissue and hiding her face with her hair.
Wednesday, May 22 2013 11:46 PM EDT2013-05-23 03:46:56 GMT
WTOC spoke to a Joplin tornado survivor who has since moved to Effingham County. She says instead of focusing on the past, she is trying to help the victims of the Oklahoma tornado.More >>
Wednesday was an emotional day for Joplin tornado survivors all across the country. WTOC spoke to one survivor who has since moved to Effingham County. She says instead of focusing on the past, she is trying to help the victims of the Oklahoma tornado.More >>