CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A Charlotte man pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for a crash that killed two people on I-77 in February 2018.
Investigators say Roy Mewborn was speeding when he crashed into a car that – for some reason - was stopped in the center lane near La Salle Street. Phillips Hayes, junior and Jessica Pacatte were inside the car and killed.
Prosecutors said the fact that Hayes and Pacatte’s vehicle was sitting stationary in the center lane of I-77 was considered contributory to the collision but troopers say Mewborn “had red glassy eyes and detected an odor of alcohol and suspected impairment.”
“The defendant admitted to troopers on scene that he was driving the vehicle, that he consumed alcohol not long before the crash and had smoke marijuana the night before,” said Assistant District Attorney Desmond McCallum.
Prosecutors and defense agreed to a plea deal.
Thursday afternoon, the judge accepted the plea agreement and sentenced Mewborn up to two years in prison. But, Mewborn won’t have to serve that time, instead that sentence has been suspended and he’ll be on probation for three years.
The victims’ families told the Judge and Mewborn what they were feeling.
“Never gonna be able to forget this incident,” said Jessica Pacatte’s mother, Verdell. “He took something away from me that I can never, never get back. Every day I struggle so hard knowing that I can never see her face again, never hear her voice again.”
And, Verdell Pacatte had a request.
“Would you please allow him to go speak at schools until he’s off probation – twice a month so he can teach other kids not to make the same mistakes he made,” she said.
“And I know what my daughter would do – she would forgive him and I have every right to forgive him as well but I’ll never forget.”
Jessica’s sister, Tasha Woods, says she believes Mewborn should have served some time in prison.
“He still gets to live his and that’s just - it’s not fair,” said Woods. “It was an accident and accidents do happen but this accident really messed a lot of people up internally.”
Phillips Hayes’ mother made sure the court knew who her son was.
“My son Phillip Hayes Jr. was a father, a brother, a mentor, a friend, a motivator, a coach at his son’s basketball team,” said Constance Hayes. “He was a self-driven man, a self-made man, a self-educated man, a self-taught man and he came a long way in his life and he had a lot of dreams and hopes.”
Constance Hayes turned to Mewborn with specific words for him.
“And I want you to know that my family doesn’t harbor any hatred or malice towards this young man but at the same time it’s been such a devastating change for so many,” she said. “I hope that this young man has learned a hard lesson but a lesson that’s gonna carry you through and change your life and make you do different and make you do things differently – maybe you can stand up now and help somebody else and do something for somebody else.”
“He’s given up alcohol. He’s living in his own prison right now,” said defense attorney Thomas Porter. “My client is still being punished even though he may not be going to a physical jail he’s suffering just the same.”
The judge also ordered Mewborn to pay restitution to the victim’s families.