Web posted Wednesday, November 8, 2000
5:08 a.m. CT

Victims' kin testify against drunken driver

The Associated Press

WEATHERFORD (AP) - Relatives of four slain honor students, urging the maximum sentence for the man who pleaded guilty in the deaths, told of the unfulfilled dreams the girls had before they were struck down by the drunken driver.

Some jurors were tearful Monday as the families showed videotapes and photos of Mandi McWhorter, 15; Lacey Osina, 17; Staci Lee, 16; and Whitney Welch, 16. All were athletes and honor students in Brock, a close-knit community of about 300 people about 40 miles west of Fort Worth.

Relatives told of cheerleading camps, family vacations and organ donations in the trial to determine the punishment for Rickey Carter, 42, of Fort Worth.

Carter faces up to 20 years' imprisonment, to run concurrently, for the four counts of intoxication manslaughter. Some family members have criticized Carter's plea agreement and Parker County District Attorney Donald Schnebly for accepting the deal following the deaths.

"If you want an impact statement on what this has done to me, I think you see it," said Brock High School principal Jim Branch, breaking into tears minutes after taking the stand. "These were very young, active, gifted students."

Three were cheerleaders and one victim was a player for the Brock High School girls' basketball team before Carter's pickup veered into the wrong lane on Ranger Highway in Brock just after 11 p.m. on Dec. 19, 1998. The truck then smashed into a Nissan that had tried to avoid the collision by pulling onto the road shoulder, killing all four occupants inside as they tried to return home from a basketball game.

Carter spent most of Monday's testimony in a crowded courtroom with his head down, refusing to look at the witnesses.

Testimony was to resume Tuesday before visiting State District Judge Robert Gill.

David Lee lost his only child, Staci, in the crash. He told the eight-woman, four-man jury Monday that Carter has never apologized.