Gautier woman sentenced to prison for third DUI conviction

Marlene Zernee McCoy. Image source: Office of the District Attorney.
Marlene Zernee McCoy. Image source: Office of the District Attorney.

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Gautier woman will serve more than five years in prison after a Harrison County jury found her guilty of felony driving under the influence third offense on Wednesday. District Attorney Joel Smith said a state toxicologist confirmed Marlene Zernee McCoy, 37, had nine different prescription drugs, along with marijuana and alcohol, in her system when she was arrested for DUI on October 3, 2012.

Smith said Dominic Anthony Puzo, a concerned citizen, testified during the two day trial that he called police and followed McCoy's car after he saw her driving erratically on Highway 90 that day. Puzo said he followed McCoy onto Interstate 110 where she continued to swerve from side-to-side.

Officials said Puzo remained behind McCoy until Biloxi police could perform a traffic stop.

"Mr. Puzo's swift actions were instrumental in removing a dangerous situation from a busy interstate. His proactive response played a vital role in protecting the public" said Smith.

Officers testified that McCoy had to be helped from her car because she was so impaired, and she admitted to taking Lortab within the last hour. An arrest warrant was granted to obtain a blood sample from McCoy. That is when the Mississippi Crime Lab found the mixture of drugs in her system.

McCoy testified that she had several hip surgeries and was prescribed all of the drugs found in her system. She admitted that she began to self-medicate with marijuana after running out of her prescribed drugs.

Judge Larry Bourgeois said he, "has a duty to protect the citizens of this district and to provide safe streets."

Smith said McCoy was previously convicted of DUI causing death from a 2008 accident that claimed the life of a passenger in her vehicle. Bourgeois ordered McCoy to serve the remainder of her 15 year sentence on that case consecutive to the five year sentence on her new conviction.

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