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Woman sentenced in DUI wreck
Injured boyfriend's testimony key to plea deal that avoids jail time
trip 1 mccoy
Nicole McCoy walks through her neighborhood as she trains for the upcoming half-marathon. - photo by Jim Dean
A Dawsonville woman received a suspended two-year prison sentence Wednesday and eight years probation for a 2006 alcohol-related wreck that injured her boyfriend.
Alma Munoz, 27, of 149 Box Car Way, waived her right to a trial and pleaded guilty in Forsyth County Superior Court to one count of serious injury by vehicle.
Munoz had also been charged with an additional count of serious injury by vehicle and two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol. Her sentence was part of a negotiated plea.
The wreck, which occurred June 10, 2006, injured her boyfriend, Jonathan Ashley, who spoke on her behalf Wednesday.
Munoz explained to Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley that she and Ashley had been drinking alcohol aboard a boat on Lake Lanier before the wreck.
Ashley held Munoz's hand while he spoke to Bagley. He said he felt partly responsible for what was happening to Munoz.
Ashley told the judge he and his family forgive Munoz and tearfully asked Bagley for mercy.
"I just want to get on with my life with her and our life together," he said.
Ashley said that Munoz turned his life around, helped him stop drinking and got him going to church again.
Munoz said that on the day of the wreck Ashley got sick on the boat and asked her to take him home.
"On the way to the house, which was about a mile away, I lost control of the vehicle and ended up hitting a tree on his side of the vehicle," she said. "He ended up having a head injury."
The wreck occurred on Peachtree Road, not far from Bald Ridge Marina.
Munoz said she had two beers and two shots of liquor throughout the day.
Sandy Partridge, chief assistant district attorney for Forsyth County, said Munoz's blood alcohol level registered .18 after the wreck. The state legal limit is 0.08.
Partridge said the wreck occurred about 7 p.m., when Munoz overcorrected and ran off the road.
She said authorities found Munoz's Toyota Celica up against a tree. Ashley was trapped in the vehicle. He was flown to a hospital and underwent surgery for injuries to his face.
Munoz had gotten out of the car and refused treatment, Partridge said, adding that officers smelled a strong odor of alcohol on her breath.
"They were both drinking that day," Partridge said.
Munoz's attorney, Rob Leonard, said she has been sober since May 6, 2007, and that she has reprioritized her life and become active in her church since the wreck.
Partridge said she would have recommended a five-year sentence had Ashley not asked for leniency. She reminded him that the state was also a victim.
"It could have been someone else," Partridge said. "It could have been someone who had nothing to do with it."
Bagley said that just as easily as Munoz left the road and hit a tree, she could have crossed the center line, hit and killed someone.
"This is a crime with a magnitude that deserves some retribution, some punishment, it must be meted out," he said.
Bagley also noted the fact that the wreck occurred two years ago and by her own admission, Munoz didn't stop drinking until one year ago.
He said the fact she continued drinking tells him that she could have "a serious drinking problem that needs to be addressed for the safety of not only you and your friends but the innocent people who are motorists on the roadway."
Munoz's sentence includes a $2,000 fine and 132 hours of community service. Bagley also ordered her to spend 150 hours talking to teenagers about her drinking and driving.
Partridge said Munoz's criminal history includes a misdemeanor theft charge in 1999 and a driving under the influence charge in 2004.
As a condition of her sentencing, Munoz's two-year sentence will be suspended after she completes a residential substance abuse program at Lee Arrendale State Prison in Alto.
Once she has been released from the program, Munoz will be under at least six months of supervised probation.
The maximum sentence for serious injury by vehicle is 15 years in prison.