Driver in Fatal Texting Crash to Spend 10 Years Behind Bars; Strictest Ruling In U.S.

By: Al Knox Email
By: Al Knox Email

A 23-year-old Stevens Point man convicted of a crash that killed another man nearly two years ago in Wood County will spend 10 years behind bars and seven years on probation.

John French was convicted of 2nd degree reckless homicide. He was initially charged with 1st degree reckless homicide, however that charge was reduced during a plea deal in September.

According to the accident report, French was traveling south on Highway Z on December 6, 2010 when he failed to stop at a stop sign. He collided with a car traveling east on Highway 73. French’s SUV then collided with another SUV driven by Robert R. Walker. Walker was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene.

Wood County Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Constable says this is one of the most difficult cases she has ever worked. She says the judge gave French an even stiffer ruling than what she asked for. "The judge actually ordered 10 years of confinement followed by seven years of extended supervision. The time is really similar but I guess the judge felt that was appropriate given alot of the statements made by the community and the family members made."

Assistant D.A. Constable said today's ruling is the strictest ruling in U.S. history for texting and driving homicide related cases. She says that the ruling stemmed from prior charges French faced. Those include operating a vehicle without a license, and a prior felony charge.

The Walker family including, Robert's older brother and sister all spoke to the courtroom. Robert Walker's mother also gave a very emotional testimony about her son, and how he deserved what is right. Assistant D.A. Constable said that those testimonies probably helped the Judge decide on his ruling.

According to the criminal complaint, French admitted to texting at the time of the crash.

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