AUSTIN (KXAN) — Terri Elmore was sentenced to eight years in prison Tuesday after being found guilty of intoxication manslaughter Monday for the crash that kill Jackson and Barbara Boyett, a couple who led the congregation at Dayspring Fellowship church.
Elmore was sentenced to four years in prison on each count and a $10,000 fine, with recommended probation on each of the fines.
Friends and family of the Boyett’s say they were satisfied with the sentence.
“We wanted her to do some prison time and this was more than we expected,” said Greg Van Court, the current pastor of Dayspring Fellowship Church, “Travis County does not have a good track record when it comes to sentencing drunk drivers who kill people.”
The Boyett’s led the Dayspring Fellowship church before the crash that took their lives.
During closing arguments, prosecutors told the jury the moral compass in the Travis County community is broken when it comes to drunk driving and their decision would have an impact.
Elmore’s attorneys called the punishment harsh, saying the former paramedic and mother of five should’ve gotten probation.
“She has no criminal if you have no criminal history that’s what probation is for, to give you another chance,” said Elmore’s Attorney, Jim Erickson.
Elmore’s defense team said the damage to Elmore has already been done and further jail time would not serve to rehabilitate, but would only do more damage to her and her family which includes five children. Elmore’s attorney also cited previous and similar cases like Gabrielle Nestande, and Madeline Rackley, where both suspects were found guilty and given probation.
Throughout the trial, Elmore said she suffered from memory loss from the accident. Boyett’s family and friends ended the trial showing Elmore pictures of the couple, so she never forgets them.
“I wanted her to see these faces one last time to make sure she remembers who they were and what she did so that she can own that and move past it,” said Stephen Fuller, The Boyett family’s friend.
Elmore, a mother of five, and said she would follow all terms if given probation. She is willing to do anything to keep being a mother to her children.
But the state says violations on her car breathalyzer since the crash shows she has not learned and is not remorseful.
The jury is now deliberating what the appropriate sentence should be.
The jury convicted Terri Elmore, 42, of intoxication manslaughter with a deadly weapon in the crash that killed Jackson and Barbara Boyett on U.S. Highway 290.
Elmore showed no visible reaction to the verdict, though there were a few light sobs from the gallery — most from the Boyetts’ church.
However, she was very emotional while testifying during the sentencing phase which followed.
“I keep asking God everyday to speak to (the Boyetts) and let them know how sorry I am,” said Elmore through tears.
The jury now must determine how much justice is enough. Prosecutors say the conviction should come with jail time while Elmore’s defense asked for probation.
Elmore testified she did not remember the night of the crash due to a head injury she suffered. She told the jury she still has trouble remembering daily tasks and people she meets.
But the mother of five asked the jury to give her probation so that she may continue raising her children.
“I’ll do whatever I can to still be a mother for my children.”
She also thanked three women from the Boyetts’ Dayspring Fellowship church who showed up at the hospital to pray for her the night of the crash.
You can see more details about Elmore’s testimony on Chris Sadeghi’s Twitter page.
During early testimony in the sentencing phase, prosecutors called members of the congregation led by Jackson and Barbara Boyett before their deaths.
Member Barbara Harrell said the couple had “hearts of gold” while another member, Ben Fletcher, said the Boyetts would want forgiveness for Elmore, but would also want the appropriate justice. During this testimony, it was revealed to the jury that many women from Dayspring Fellowship went to the hospital on the night of the crash to pray for Elmore who was seriously injured.
A pre-trial services employee at Travis County told the jury Elmore violated the terms of her ignition interlock device multiple times after it was installed in her vehicle following the accident. Elmore’s defense said she was suffering from memory problems after the crash and did not fully understand the terms of the interlock device.
Elmore attributed the violations to mouthwash and because she possibly drank a glass of wine the night before the v
Todd Gantt, Elmore’s husband, took the stand to tell the jury if they would spare his wife jail time and sentence her to probation, he would be by his wife’s side every step of the way and make sure she followed all terms. Elmore’s ex-husband testified she is a great mother to their ten-year-old daughter and that his daughter would need her mother for guidance.
From evidence presented in the guilt/innocence Prosecutors said Elmore drank at a bar on Nov. 29, 2011, and then later got behind the wheel and slammed head-on into a car carrying the Boyetts while driving on U.S. 290 near the “Y” in Oak Hill.
Elmore’s defense team told a jury that Elmore was not drunk and that the crash was simply an accident.
Menawhile, a bartender at Jack Allen’s restaurant on Tuesday testified that said he served Elmore and her co-worker four rounds of drinks the evening of the crash. He said that Elmore appeared upset but he didn’t see any signs of intoxication.
Elmore’s co-worker testified that Elmore was upset about an argument she was having with her boyfriend.
A man who was driving behind Elmore told the jury he didn’t notice any erratic driving but did see her drift into the oncoming lanes of the highway.
Deliberations resumed Monday after the jury was sent home for the weekend. The case went to the jury for deliberations on Friday afternoon.