HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Hancock County man will spend 20 years in prison for a drunk driving accident that killed a teenager. Jody Jarrell pleaded guilty to felony DUI causing death in the 2010 accident.
William Arthur, a 17-year-old Hancock High student, died when he was thrown from Jarrell's truck. With Jarrell now headed to prison, the victim's family is divided over the way justice was served.
Jody Jarrell had nothing to say as he left the courtroom a convicted felon. But the victim's family had plenty to say.
"Justice was served. My nephew can lay in rest, lay in peace now," said Chris Myers, the victim's aunt.
"I am his Godmother, I'm his nanny and I'm glad justice was served. We have been grieving and now we can, maybe, maybe we can try to let it go. It's still hard. I can never forgive him," explained Jennifer Parker.
Jarrell admitted he was drinking the night of July 30, 2010 when he got behind the wheel to take Arthur to a friend's place. Jarrell lost control of his truck on Highway 603, just south of Firetower Road. A pine tree with missing bark is the tree authorities say the truck hit before throwing William Arthur out of the vehicle. A cross memorial along the highway marks the crash site.
The victim's mother and his high school sweetheart feel everyone has suffered enough, including the driver.
"To me, it was an accident," said the victim's mother, Raydean Nations. "I don't think he should be charged with anything. I think he's learned his lesson. He's got a scar from one ear to the other ear. I understand he has not drank since the accident. And the man was an alcoholic."
Leona Cunningham, the victim's long time girlfriend, agreed.
"The man has a family, too. Why would you want to take someone away from their family when we know the loss of a family member ripped from us? He has a little girl that I'm close with, an older son, a wife, and he's learned his lesson."
But other family members disagree.
"You shouldn't drink and drive. That was a child," said Kodie Bounds, the victim's cousin.
Judge John Gargiulo sentenced Jarrell to 25 years in prison, but suspended five of those years.