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A Monroe Police officer is defending her reputation, after she failed to appear at a court hearing involving the man who police say killed two people Wednesday night.
Police say a Chevrolet Trailblazer collided with a Honda CRV SUV around 9:30 near the entrance to the Matthews Festival Shopping Center at the corner of Independence Boulevard and Matthews Township Parkway.
The driver of the Chevy SUV, Justin Wayne Jones, 28, of Matthews, is charged with DWI and reckless driving. Police say he may face additional charges. According to authorities, Marie Crook, 62, of Charlotte, was driving the Honda. She was killed, along with her daughter, Jennifer Hunt, 37, of Charlotte.
In 2010, Monroe Police arrested Jones for drunk driving. Court records show the case was dismissed in 2011 because a police officer didn't appear in court. Monroe Police Officer Tina Harkey arrested Jones in January 2010, and told WBTV that she made several court appearances for the case.
Harkey says the case was continued several times, and finally dismissed in June 2011, because she was not there. Harkey insists she was never told about the June 2011 hearing and Jones was not on the docket that day, though his case was dismissed.
"Whether I was there or not, whether he was found guilty or not, he still made a choice to be out there driving. He still took somebody else's life and it doesn't matter what the court does," Harkey said.
DMV records show that Jones had a Failure to Appear (in court) for a non-moving violation (altering tag, title or registration) that resulted in a suspension of his license from June 20, 2010 to May 3, 2012. He also had a Refusal to take a breath alcohol test that resulted in a suspension of his license from Feb. 10, 2011 to Feb. 10, 2012.
At the time of the Dec. 26 accident, his license had been reinstated on Aug. 14, 2012 and he was driving with a valid N.C. driver license. According to records, he is scheduled to appear in court in Mecklenburg County on Feb. 1, 2013 on the DWI he was charged with on Dec. 26
Police say Hunt's two children were also in the car. They were hurt but are expected to be okay. Hunt attended Next Level Church in Matthews and also worked part-time at the church. A couple of weeks ago when fellow church member Kayla Campbell was missing, the church's pastor says Hunt "dropped everything and volunteered to help search for Kayla".