HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - William McKinnley Horner was sentenced to the maximum 25 years in prison just days after pleading guilty to felony DUI causing death or disfigurement. Judge Larry Bourgeois suspended seven years of the sentence, leaving 18 to serve in prison.
Horner was behind the wheel June 30, 2015 when he slammed into Bethanie Jones' vehicle head-on while going over the Popp's Ferry Bridge.
When police got to the scene, Horner's eyes were red and heavy and his pupils were constricted, District Attorney Joel Smith said. Police reported he passed out several times on the way to the police station.
Blood tests revealed Horner was under the influence of methamphetamine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, trazodone, and marijuana at the time of the crash.
"Her injuries were life threatening and included a broken right leg and ankle, multiple facial fractures with several teeth knocked out and deep bruising of her chest," said Senior Assistant District Attorney Beth McFadyen Moore.
Jones was in the hospital for weeks after the crash. Doctors had to operate on her brain after she suffered a major stroke. Smith said Jones still has no use of her left arm and has seizures from her brain injury.
Jones spoke to the court during Thursday's sentencing hearing. It's a day she will never forget.
"Something we've been waiting for ever since it happened. It's finally here. It's like we get some sense of justice," said Jones.
"It restored confidence in me as well as our family that justice does prevail," said Rodderick Jones, Bethanie's brother.
"No kind of apology can replace what we've gone through, actually dealing with it day by day. The surgeries, the hospital, you know, overnight staying at the hospital. You can never compare that to anything," said Bettye Jones.
Bethanie has undergone four brain surgeries from the stroke she had following the crash, and she still has regular physical therapy to regain strength on her left side.
"It's the worst possible feeling any human should ever have to go through," said Jones.
She said her family has been there every step of the way.
"Supportive beyond belief, it's what you need in a case like this. When no one else is around, you can always depend on your family for your strength," said Jones.