Update: 1/11/13 @ 2 p.m.:
Chasity Nicole Jones entered a guilty plea Friday in Fulton County Superior Court to one count of vehicular manslaughter and one count of failure to obey the directions of an officer in the January 2012 death of Atlanta Police Senior Officer Gail Thomas.
A sobbing Jones apologized to the Thomas family, specifically the fallen officer's father and daughter, whom the 23-year-old Jones noted is the same age as she. Tears were streaming throughout the crowded courtroom, including down the cheeks of some of the many, many law enforcement personnel in attendance.
Remarked Judge Craig Schwall, “It’s a paramount concern to society that our law enforcement officers be treated with the highest honor and dignity and respect and gratitude. …The sentencing range is 3-16 years. I don’t think 16 years is enough. If I had a choice it would be more than 16 years. And so based on what has occurred, I can’t go along with anything but the maximum."
Jones is now facing 16 years in prison. For complete post-trial coverage, see here.
The Stone Mountain woman charged with driving drunk and killing Atlanta Police Senior Officer Gail Thomas in a January 2012 crash is expected to appear in Fulton County Superior Court on Friday.
Chasity Nicole Jones, 23, was indicted last year on thirteen counts, including driving under the influence of alcohol and homicide by vehicle in the first degree, in the Jan. 24, 2012 incident that claimed the life of Thomas, who was attempting to divert traffic away from a previous crash on Interstate 75/85 southbound at the Brookwood Interchange when she was struck by a Honda Civic driven by Jones.
At the scene of the tragic accident, Jones blew a .16, which is twice the Georgia legal limit, and refused consent for a state administered blood alcohol reading.
A source close to the trial has told Patch that Jones is expected to ask the court for mercy in the no jury trial. The State of Georgia is asking for 15 years to serve in prison for killing Austell's Thomas, who was well known in the Midtown and APD Zone 5 coverage area.
Thomas was 46 years old and a sworn police officer for 15 years when she died on the scene.
“Senior Police Officer Thomas was a veteran police officer whose sense of duty and commitment to public safety inspired many of her fellow officers,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed last January.
Less than a week after the accident, hundreds of mourners, including a sea of blue-uniformed police officers from APD and other police jurisdictions, gathered at Elizabeth Baptist Church in Cascade Heights to pay their final respects to Thomas.
"I challenge you though as you sit here today, do not mourn for Gail Thomas, because Gail is all right," Maj. Christopher Leighty, then APD's Zone 5 commander and Thomas' former boss at Zone 3, told the congregation." Mourn for our loss and the fact that world is a little less bright because of the loss of her physical presence in our life. We may not see her but she will forever be in our hearts and in our actions."