Accident victim shows 'Christian forgiveness' to drunken driver

Friday, March 30, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

A young man whose case was set for trial March 29 pled guilty Wednesday, and will report to jail next week to start serving a six-month sentence.

Joshua Lee Rich, 21, of 2nd Avenue South, pled guilty to driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident, and reckless endangerment.

When Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler asked for the factual basis of the case, Assistant District Attorney Mike Randles stated that on May 9 last year, Rich picked up two sisters in Cornersville and took them to a party in Lewisburg where alcohol was consumed, and later to another party where marijuana was smoked. Later, Rich and the girls, and another man, left the party in Rich's car. He was speeding down Spring Place Road in the early hours of May 10 when he lost control of the car, crashed and rolled. One sister's right hand was so badly mangled it had to be amputated. Rich and the others received minor injuries.

"The medical bills were staggering," Randles said. "There may be civil litigation."

The sisters and their parents were in agreement with Rich's guilty plea, and said they didn't want his life ruined, Randles told the court.

"They are to be commended for their forgiving nature," Randles said. "Her life has been permanently altered. I would not take it as well as she has. I commend the entire family for their compassion."

The judge agreed with him.

"It is refreshing to see people with Christian forgiveness," Crigler said. "This is better than holding onto a lot of anger."

Rich turned to look at the sisters sitting in the courtroom and softly said, "I'm sorry."

He will serve six months, pay a $350 fine and court costs, and have his driver's license revoked for one year. Rich was also ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow its recommendations. He will be on supervised probation for three years.

Rich's appointed attorney was Debbie Zimmerle.

Also in Circuit Court this week, Crigler denied a motion to suppress written confessions made by Jason Lee Fisher, 30, of Chapel Hill, after he was arrested in connection with a string of burglaries of homes on Woodbridge Road.

Crigler found there was no reason to suppress the statements. He determined that Fisher was not coerced into making the statements, had been properly Mirandized, and was in his right mind.

Fisher's name will be put on the docket for Circuit Court next Wednesday, when he is expected to either plead guilty or ask for a trial date.

Fisher is represented by the Public Defender's Office.

Rose Mary Tankersley, 42, of Fayetteville, was in court with her attorney, Steve Bowden, hoping to be released from jail before her court date next week. Tankersley is accused of violating her community corrections, and was ordered held without bond. Crigler declined to set a bond for her, and she will be back in court April 4.