St. Thomas woman who killed 2 teens in traffic collision gets 10 years in prison
Published: March 29, 2014
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ST. THOMAS - The courtroom was packed with grieving friends and family members as the driver who killed two young women and severely injured a third was sentenced Friday.
Karen Williams will serve 10 years in prison, five years for each death.
It was the maximum sentence she could receive.
V.I. Superior Court judge Kathleen Mackay heard almost three hours of testimony from those impacted by the accident. Several of Williams' relatives also spoke on her behalf.
Williams sat at the defendant's table with a tissue in her hand, wiping tears away and trying to remain composed. She looked at the victims' family members as they spoke to her, occasionally nodding in agreement with their words.
At the end of the testimony, she stood to address the court.
However, she turned her back to the judge and instead looked out over the packed courtroom.
"I really and truly am sorry for what happened," Williams said. "I'm sorry and I really regret what I did. I take responsibility for what I did."
Just before 5 a.m. Jan. 25, 2012, Williams was driving a Honda east on Weymouth Rhymer Highway in the same direction that three friends from Ivanna Eudora Kean High School were walking, according to court records.
Williams lost control of the car, which jumped a curb and struck the pedestrians, a speed limit sign and spun into a utility pole.
The impact threw 17-year-old Aliya Robles 26.4 feet; 18-year-old Jolicia Wilson, 16.7 feet; and 18-year-old Shatina Garnette 28.2 feet, according to police.
Garnette was the only survivor.
She suffered two broken arms, spinal fractures, nerve damage, a fractured pelvis and left leg and a dislocated right leg.
She was kept in a chemically induced coma for more than a week while doctors operated on her. She had 11 procedures done in the course of six major surgeries.
She is still recovering, and has permanent nerve damage that makes her right hand virtually unusable.
"My right hand was taken from me on that day," she said.
In the courtroom she demonstrated how she opens a bottle of water - with her teeth. She explained that she cannot properly hold her 2-year-old son without help, and will never be able to deliver another child naturally if she is able to carry a baby to term at all.
"She took my life away; I felt like the walking dead," Garnette said. "I got hit by a car. I lost my two friends because I decided to go jogging."
Garnette's mother, Shanda Caracciolo, said her daughter suffers from survivor's guilt, convinced that she is to blame for the death of her friends.
Caracciolo spoke directly to Williams.
"I forgive you for what you have done to my daughter, but you need help," she said.
At the time of the accident, V.I. police asked Williams to take a chemical test of her blood-alcohol level, which registered at 0.161, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08.
At the time of her arrest, Williams was charged with two counts of negligent homicide, along with reckless endangerment and two counts of driving under the influence.
However, Williams pleaded guilty to just two counts of negligent homicide, a charge that carries a maximum of five years under the V.I. Code.
"Five years is never going to be enough," Aliya Robles' mother, Sandra Jackson-Robles, said.
She said after the accident, many people in the community said they hoped Williams died, or even threatened to kill her for what she did.
"I don't want this woman hurt, she needs help," Sandra Jackson-Robles said. "I am trying to work it through, my family is trying to work it through."
Jolicia Wilson's mother, Kimbra Willett, brought up photographs of her daughter and Jolicia's son, who was almost 1 when his mother was killed.
Crying, Willett said: "I didn't have a chance to say goodbye. I didn't have a chance to say I love you."
"I don't despise you," Willett said to Williams. "We all have to fight our own demons. We all have to chose and face our consequences."
- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.