A 19-year-old Alpharetta woman has pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in the 2017 head-on crash that killed 64-year-old Mary Francis Griffin of Woodstock.
Kendall Elizabeth Texter pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle in the first degree, three counts of reckless driving, two counts of serious injury by vehicle, speeding, improper passing, and possession of marijuana.
Cherokee County Superior Court Judge David Cannon, Jr., sentenced Texter to 15 years, with 90-120 days to be served in confinement at the probation detention center. The sentence also included a $1,000 fine and 2,000 hours of community service.
In the Nov. 2, 2017 incident Texter was accused of traveling more than 78 mph in a Ford Fusion, while passing other vehicles in a no-passing zone on an uphill portion of East Cherokee Drive, when she collided with Griffin's vehicle. The speed limit in that area is 45 mph.
Griffin suffered injuries to her spine, wrist, lower leg and ankle, as well as to internal organs, including her liver and spleen. She was taken to WellStar Kennestone Regional Medical Center. Griffin died on Nov. 11.
Griffin was on her way to pick up her grandchild, while the defendant was headed home after attending class at Kennesaw State University.
During the non-negotiated plea hearing, Assistant District Attorney David Holmes recommended a sentence of 10 years to be served in prison and argued that the loss of life, coupled with the manner of driving, warranted a serious prison sentence.
“This situation was a tragedy; the defendant took an innocent life because of a selfish, needless decision to drive recklessly,” Holmes said. “We hope to deter this sort of driving in Cherokee County. We want all of our citizens to make it home each and every night safely to their families.”
At the plea hearing on May 14, friends and family provided victim impact statements in person and in writing. Griffin had retired after a career as a paralegal. Impact statements described how her death has left a hole in her family members' lives.