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Friday, November 3, 2000

Jury listens to Brock teens case

Sentencing starts for man guilty of intoxication manslaughter

By Angela K. Brown
Associated Press

WEATHERFORD, Texas - A week before Christmas 1998, six Brock high schoolers planning a slumber party to celebrate their basketball game victory piled into a car for a quick trip across town to rent holiday movies.
   At the last minute, two girls decided to ride with a cousin of one of the teens. Less than an hour later, those three watched in horror as a pickup truck smashed into their friends' car traveling in front of them.
   The crash killed everyone in the car: Whitney Welch, 16; Mandi McWhorter, 15; Staci Lee, 16; and Lacey Osina, 17. All were athletes and honor students.
   Last week, Rickey Carter, 42, of Fort Worth, pleaded guilty to four counts of intoxication manslaughter. The trial to determine his sentence started Thursday after three days of jury selection.
   It was expected to last several days. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
   Brock Anderson, who was driving Sanders and Whitney Bell, stopped his vehicle and jumped out, screaming the girls' names. The three rushed to the car, where they saw their friends bleeding and unconscious, and ran to call their families and police.
   Carter, who was pinned inside his truck, which had landed on the passenger side, complained of abdominal pain and said he couldn't breathe well, Weatherford firefighter J.C. Travis said.
   Travis said when he asked Carter several questions to determine his level of consciousness, Carter became agitated. Travis also smelled alcohol on Carter's breath.
   "He was cussing quite a bit and demanded that I remove him, then became evasive" about where he lived, Travis testified.
   Police found beer in Carter's truck. Officials tested his blood-alcohol level at the hospital twice, with one result 0.16 and the other 0.18. The legal limit at the time was 0.10.
   But Carter's attorney Jerry Loftin said another test showed the blood-alcohol level at 0.12, slightly above the legal standard. He also questioned whether anyone actually smelled beer on Carter's breath.
   Loftin said fog and rain may have been factors in the wreck and that a third car may have been involved. However, witnesses and authorities at the scene testified Thursday that the night was clear and no other cars were on the road at the time.
   Loftin said Carter has been suicidal since the crash because he has devoted his life to helping underprivileged children and the community.
   Loftin urged jurors to give Carter probation, saying a prison term would limit his ability to provide restitution.
   The victims' families have filed a civil lawsuit seeking unspecified damages against Carter.

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