“Memories of Mandi
 

(Lezlie McWhorter)

 

I wish to thank the members of the jury for their time and effort to fulfill your duty and responsibility and to uphold the law in Parker County and Texas.

 

I ask that the death of my daughter, Mandi McWhorter, not be in vain and that no other family should have to experience the pain and heart ache that we are now living with every day.  We believe you, the jury of Parker Co. should give Rickey Carter the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

 

You have listened to how our hearts have been broken, how our lives have been changed forever.  Rickey Carter’s life has been changed forever.  BUT, the difference is, Rickey Carter had a CHOICE in his future; Mandi, Staci, Whitney, Lacey and their families DID NOT.

 

I’d like to tell you a story.  I entitle this story “Memories of Mandi”.  Since Rickey Carter took away Mandi’s right to speak today, I am going to speak on her behalf.

 

When I was thinking about this process, my mind was flooded with countless memories.  But, because of time, I knew I had to pick a few of my most cherished memories to share with you.  What I want you to see more than anything is how close Mandi and I were and how full of .life she truly was.  Not that LIFE IS GONE.

 

At 7:41 p.m. on August 31st, 1983 the Lord blessed us with a beautiful daughter.  From the moment the doctor placed her in my arms, I knew our relationship was going to be special and one of my favorite memories that epitomizes or Mother-Daughter relationship is this: 

 

I direct your attention to the board and notice the pictures of the “Mother-Daughter Banquet in May of 1991.”  Here, Mandi and I wrote a letter to each other and sang a Sandy Patty song, entitled, “Love Makes A Friend Be a Friend Like You.”  I want to read to you Mandi’s letter to me, and a portion of my letter to her.

 


“Dear Mom---     I love you very very much.  You are very special to me.  You are the best mom I could ever have.  Thank you for all the times that we have been together.  Thank you for all the things you have done for me.  I am very proud to be your daughter.  I always want us to be close to each other, I love you, Mandi

 

“Dear Mandi---     I thank the Lord each and every day that He allowed me to have a daughter—a daughter like you.  I love you so much!  No matter what happens in our lives I hope and pray that we can always stay close and you can always tell me anything.  Things that you’re going through –Good or Bad.  So we can go through them together.  You are so special remember that, and especially now that you have the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart.  You’ll be different.  Remember to seek Him for help and guidance too.  If we both seek Him to do His will, we can’t go wrong.  I love you a lot, Mom”

 

Now I want you to listen to a portion of that song we sang to each other, Mother’s Day I May of 1991. (play song)

 

I will never have another Mother’s Day memory with Mandi.

 

Another fond memory I have is Christmas shopping with Mandi.  Christmas is usually a fun time for most families, but it was always especially exciting around our house.  Mandi and I love to go Christmas shopping together and decorating the tree as a family.  Mandi loved giving and getting gifts.  If ou notice the pictures on the board, you see the joy in her face as she opens her gifts.  Then notice the last picture, that joy is missing, BECAUSE Mandi is missing.  This picture was taken on Christmas morning of 1998, 5 day after Rickey Carter took her life.  Because Rickey Carter’s actions, I will never get the opportunity to shop with or for Mandi AGAIN.

 

My most favorite an most vivid memory of Mandi occurred on December 18th, 1998.  It was about 11:30 p.m.  She, Candice and I laid on Mandi’s bed and talked until 3 a.m. the next morning—December 19th, 1998.  We talked about where she wanted to go to college.  See, she wanted to go to TCU so she could marry a rich good-looking hunk.  We talked about the guy she liked, but would never admit to it.  I teased her about her Teddy Bear that she slept with every night.  Now that same Teddy Bear will forever be with her body in her coffin.

 

Now what I want you, THE JURY, to do is stop a moment and think about YOU—as a Dad, a Grad father, a Son,--as a Mother, a Grandmother, or a Daughter, --you know that no price could be put on memories such as these.  Just think what it would feel like to have all of the special moments in YOUR LIFE come to an en at the hands of a DRUNK DRIVER, JUST as mine have.  I will NEVER get to share another minute with my precious Mandi on this earth.

 

I know that my words and these pictures can never allow you to truly understand who Mandi was.  But, I’ve tried to compile some of my most cherished memories into this book for you—with THE HOPE that you can somehow experience the joy that Mandi brought to me and how special she really was.  I ask that you take this book with you into the jury room and as you read it, REMEMBER the beautiful person behind these words and the precious child that has been taken from me FOREVER.  What is most important is that you remember that Mandi McWhorter is NOT JUST the name of another victim of crime.  She not only was our daughter, but also a sister, a Granddaughter, a Great Granddaughter, a cousin and a friend to many.

May family and I have walked in the valley of the shadow of death because Rickey Carter chose to drink and drive.  BUT, we will fear no evil.  For GOD is with us.  The most consequential thing that could happen to Rickey Carter would be for him to receive the maximum sentence allowed and hopefully he will realize that there are consequences for every action.  I implore you, THE JURY OF PARKER CO. to please do your duty and sentence Rickey Carter to the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  To send a message to him, to Carter co. and the entire State of Texas that DRINKING AND DRIVING WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.

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(Doug McWhorter)

 

On August 31, 1983 my wife and I were blessed with our first born child.  She was a beautiful girl.  We named her Mandi Nichole McWhorter.  She was the first grandchild on both sides of our family. 

I still remember being a proud father.  I went to the shopping mall and purchased her first pink dress to wear home from the hospital.

Mandi began her learning stage at an early age.  She began walking and talking very early.  She never met a stranger.  She would always have word and a smile for you.

Mandi began competing in beauty pageants.  She was always excited about competing and meeting new friends.  At one pageant Mandi and I both won the congeniality award.  We were very proud to have the same trophy and banners on.  We still have over a 100 trophies and crowns that she has won.  Mandi was also a very good gymnast.  She worked very hard and went to Nationals.

Mandi was very competitive.  She always strived to do here best.  We played basketball together and her mom coached her softball team.  As she grew older, we also taught her about sportsmanship.  When Mandi was enter Jr. High, we would spend hours practicing volleyball and basketball.  Mandi and her mom would also practice cheerleading.  Mandi attended may sports camps during the summer in order to be the best she could be.

As Mandi enter High School, she carried her winning attitude and her friendliness with her.  Everyone remembers her bubbly personality and her smile.  Mandi was also an excellent student.  She was in the top of her class.  She was involved in many extracurricular activities, but her specialty was volleyball and basketball.  Mandi was living her dream, just like all the kids that grow up in Brock.

It is still very difficult for me to watch basketball, volleyball and cheerleading.  Daddies little girl is not involved in these activities anymore because of Rickey Carter’s choice to drink and drive.

December 19, 1998 is a very tragic day in our lives.  Little did we know that the presents Mandi would open that morning would be her last.  We let Mandi and her brother Ryan open a few gifts that morning.  Mandi opened on with a sweater that she had been wanting.  She was buried with that new sweater on that she never got a chance to wear.  We had to open her gifts for her on Christmas day because of Rickey Carter’s destructive decision.

The mental pictures that Mandi’s brother, mom and I have forever in our memories are these:

q       Driving up to an accident where you can not tell what kind of car it is.

q       Looking inside of the car to see lifeless bodies laying inside of it.

q       Looking in the ambulance to see your daughter bloody, naked, going into convulsions and the EMT’s performing CPR on her to keep her alive.

q       Walking into a trauma room and see your daughter hooked up to machines in order for her to live.

q       3” laceration from her hairline to the top of her nose, so deep you could see her skull.

q       Her mom and I wiping the blood running from Mandi’s ears, mouth and nose.

q       Mandi’s beautiful smile is gone because most of her teeth were knocked out.

q       Her eyes swelled shut and they are now black and blue.

q       Lying unconscious with may broken bones an internal injuries that included ruptured spleen, ruptured pancreas, hemorrhaging in her lungs, stomach and small intestines.

Mandi loved us very much.  She hated to see her mom and dad hurt.  On the morning of December 20th, Mandi’s spirit came to us at different times.  Mandi let us know that she was okay.  I heard her speak to me, she said “Dad, I am okay.”  Mandi told her mom, “Mom, I am okay.”  We knew that she was with Christ and she was on her way to Heaven.

At 10:00 A.M. December 20th, with Mandi’s brother Ryan, Mandi’s mom and I beside here bed, holding her hands, one at a time we kissed her broken body and told her when she was ready to go home she could.  Mandi died and went to heave.  Ricke6y Carter and his choice to drink and drive caused all of this pain and heartache.

I want to read you a letter that Ryan wrote to his sister the day after Mandi’s death.

We get up everyday thinking about what Rickey Carter has taken from us.  I want you the jury, and you Rickey Carter to see just a glimpse of the lives that our gils lived.  They lioved life and lived it to the fullest  New we get up everyday bcasue of Rickey Carter’s decision to drink and drive with pain and heartache.  These words ring inour hearts and minds everyday “Good-bye good friends.”

SHOW VIDEO

I do not get letters like these from Mandi anymore.

This would have been Mandi’s senior year and because of Rickey Carter, at graduation Mandi’s chair will be empty.  Only a cap and gown in memory of her.

Mandi will not attend her Junior-Senior prom.

I do not get the honor of giving my precious Mandi away at her wedding.

I do no get to see her have Children.

Rickey Carter must face the consequences of his fatal choice.  Rickey Carter made the choice to drink and drive on December 19th.  Now you the jury of Parker County have the responsibility and duty to sentence him to prison.  You will hear opposing testimony about Ricky Carter but I want you to remember what he took from us.  Daddies little girl is gone forever because of Rickey Carter.

I plead to you the jury, to make a statement to the people of our county, State of Texas, to those that have lost loved ones to DWI offenders that this will not be tolerated and you will pay for your irresponsible actions.  I ask you to sentence Rickey Carter to the maximum of 20 years in prison.

I thank you and my daughter thanks you.

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Saturday, December 19, 1998

On December 19, 1998 my life changed dramatically. Four of my best friends, four girls I had grown up with, were killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. I missed my four best friend a lot, and I realize that my life will never be the same. But what has been the hardest part for me was witnessing the accident. It is a nightmare that I will have to live with forever.
It was about 11:00 on the night of December 19, when we started back to Brock from Weatherford. We had just finished eating dinner at Taco Bueno and were headed to my house to watch Christmas videos. We were only about half a mile down Ranger Highway where the road was still straight and
flat. It was cold outside but the road conditions were good; it was not misty nor foggy. I had noticed the vehicle in the other lane, and I looked down to mess with the radio.  
All of a sudden I hear Brock, Mandi McWhorter’s cousin and the driver of out vehicle, exclaim, “What in the hell?” I immediately looked up to see the truck veering into our lane. 
 It looked at first as if he might have been trying to turn into one of the neighboring houses; but he wasn’t turning, it was just a steady veering movement. Brock must have swerved into the opposite lane because when I think of the accident, it all happened diagonally to my right. He swerved into their lane, Staci threw on the brakes, veered into the shoulder, and the “BAMM” they hit. He didn’t even put on his brakes or try to correct himself. He must have passed out at the wheel. Their car went air-born and then spun around and aaround until it came to a stop perpendicular to the houses. His truck flipped over and landed on its passenger sid by the car.
We pulled over into the left shoulder. Brock jumped out of the truck and ran over to the car. Whitney Bell and I got out but we just stood ther in total shock. It was completely silent, except of the sound of a small dog yelping.
Brock screamed, “Oh my God! It’s so bad; it’s so bad! They are so hurt.” I’ll never ever forget those words. Upon hearing Brock yell this, Whitney Bell and I ran over to the car. The three of us began yelling their names over and over again, but there was no response. The four girls were unconscious; however, we could hear moaning coming from the driver of the truck.
 I ran to the nearby house to call 911 but a neighbor had already made that call. So I decided to call their parents. I knew they needed to know and they needed to know right then. That was the hardest part for me; having to talk to their families knowing that some of them were not okay.
After the calls I ran back to the accident. I walked around the car trying to see if I could help the girls. Mandi was behind the passenger seat. She was sitting upright twitching and blood was running down her face. Lacey was in the passenger seat. She was laying against the door and when also had blood running down her face. Her seatbelt had broken on impact.
Then I walked around to the driver’s side. Whitney had been in the back seat behind the driver, but I couldn’t see her. I figured she must have fallen into the floorboard. However, I found out later that she had been tossed around and was lying, wrapped around the seat, between Staci and Lacey.
I knew Whitney and Mandi hadn’t been wearing their seatbelts because we never wore our seatbelts in the backseat. Staci, who was the driver, was worst of all. Her side had been directly hit and the car had wrapped around her. She was laying against the steering wheel in a space only about a foot long. I knew just from that sight that she probably wasn’t going to make it. In between the 2 cars was a crushed Keystone beer can. I knew then and there that his was the result of a man driving drunk. It couldn’t have come from the car driven by my best friends, because we didn’t drink.
Within 5 minutes of the initial impact, emergency crews began to arrive. First the police, then the ambulances, and finally the fire trucks. The only civilians I remember, other than us, was a neighboring man who had helped Brock pry open Mandi’s door and 3 Springtown students who arrived soon after the accident.
 Mandi was the first to be taken from the car. Within a few minutes of being placed in the ambulance, her parents arrived and she was taken to Campbell Memorial Hospital. Lacey was the next one (and the last) to be removed from the car. Her parents arrived soon after the McWhorters, and she too was taken to Campbell.
Then the emergency crews began to work on getting the man out of his truck. But why? Why weren’t they trying to help Stgaci and Whitney? I soon found out the answer as they placed white sheets over my two remaining best friends and told that they hadn’t made it.
This started the endless crying that I would still be suffering to this day. I had kept myself together throughout the entire accident until now.
Hours after Staci and Whitney had gone, Mandi passed away too. I remember Brandee Barnes running out into the lobby of Harris Hospital screaming that Mandi was gone. I jumped up and ran to her room. This couldn’t be true. Only an hour ago they had told us she was doing better and I really believed that she was going to make it. I had just come from her room. I had held her hand and told her I loved her, and now my best friend in the whole world was gone.
Then days after Mandi, Lacey passed away. I had prepared myself for this news. After losing the other three, I think I had given jp hope that Lacey would make it. I remember sitting at a luncheon at the Community Center before Staci’s funeral. I was sitting with Michael Barnes, Lacey’s boyfriend, when his Dad came over to us and told us that Lacey was gone. We both just held onto each other but neither of us cried. I think we both knew this ws going to happen.
Now all that was left was their funerals and the everlasting process of learning how to go on without them in my life. A process that to this day I still haven’t quite figured out how to get through.

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 Brandi Barnes

Hello, 'am Brandee Barnes. I am a 17 year old Senior at Brock High School. As a freshman, I was on top of the world thinking 'It can't get any better than this.'' I made the Varsity squad in Basketball, Cheerleading, Track and Cross Country. It was a special year as I was cheerleader for my brother (who was a Senior). Also, all my friends made cheerleader:  including Staci, Mandi and Whitney. Lacey was new at our school and was dating my brother.

As a sophomore, we all made cheerleader again and Lacey joined our squad. We began the year with a bang as we raised money and were able to attend cheerleading camp at SOUTH PADRE (a beach on the coast). Staci and Whitney both turned 16 on the trip. As school began, Mandi, Staci, Whitney and myself were all starters for the volleyball team. We had a blast. Then came basketball - Mandi, Lacey and myself were on the team and we were 12-2 at the Christmas break. Staci and Whitney cheered for our team and we all cheered for the boys. Everyone told us that we had the "prettiest squad' everywhere we went.

As I said, "it can't get any better than this'. What an understatement - it couldn't get better - 

it DID get a lot worse. On December 19, 1998, we played our last game together. We played at Graford (about one hour away from Brock). We all planned to go eat and watch a movie in Ft. Worth after the game. We didn't get home from the game until about 9:30 and I was tired so I decided that I wouldn't go to Ft. Worth. I went to take back a movie and get something to drink with Taelour. Neither one of us wanted to go to Ft. Worth. Right after I left my home, Whitney called and told my mom that they had decided to go to Weatherford as they were all tired. I missed being in the car by about 5 minutes. If she had called earlier, I would have went with them. We went everywhere together.

I arrived home about 10:40 and my mom received a phone call about I 1: 15. "The girls have been in an accident'. We immediately left and went to the wreck site. As we approached the car, we saw the back of it. From the back, I thought they would be o.k. The policemen told us that we should go to the hospital as all the parents are going there.

They also told us that Lacey and Mandi had been taken to the hospital and that Whitney and Staci were still in the car. We wanted to wait on Whitney's dad as my mom had called him to tell him about the accident. They never tried to get them out of the car. My mom knew why and found out they were not alive. I overheard her and my Dad talking. I had to be held up. This can't be true.

Later, we headed to the Weatherford hospital and waited for Whitney's morn to come. She said she knew how Whitney was by the look on my mother's face. They later transported Mandi and Lacey to Ft. Worth as they had a faint heartbeat. It was about 3:00 a.m. Sunday when we arrived at the hospital in Ft. Worth. The Dr. came into the family room and told us that Mandi's brain was swelling and they would give her medicine but it might not help. All of the youth gathered around in a circle and prayed. Lezlie (Mandi's Mom) let me and Taelour go in and see Mandi after they took her to an intensive care unit.

It was devastating to see your best friend breathing with the help from a machine. Her face was bruised and swollen.

Later, we went to check on Lacey. She was one floor down from Mandi. We spent several hours going back and forth. Late Sunday morning, we heard Mandi wasn't going to make it. There was no brain activity. We all went in and said goodbye as she lay lifeless on the bed. How could this be happening? How could this man take all these lives?

Lacey was still holding on with a little brain activity. We stayed until about 10:30 p.m. and my brother said he wanted to leave. He told Lacey goodbye. He said he knew she was gone. This man made a wrong decision and killed all my best friends and killed my brother's girlfriend. We have lost all the people closest in our life. This can't be true. I kept thinking.

Lacey officially died on Tuesday. The day we buried Staci and Whitney. Lacey and Mandi were buried on Saturday after Christmas.

It has been a year and 8 months. I lost all of my friends - think about it: take away the 4 people you do everything with and see what your life would be like. My cheerleading squad went from 8 to 4 people, my basketball team lost 2 of 8 varsity players, our homecoming court went from 4 to 2, my track partner (Whitney) was gone and my weekend plans went from 4 people to 0! I spent many nights staying home for a long time. During spring break, I thought I was going to go crazy. Everybody is GONE!

I couldn't cheer the rest of the year. I never jumped or tumbled after the accident. I couldn't run track without Whitney. My mother prayed daily that God would lift me, my brother and all the families and carry us all through this.

Everybody makes mistakes - but  ....... we must be ready to face the consequences if we make a wrong choice. This man made a wrong choice. He took 4 bright friends from my life and from their family. He took my brother's girlfriend from him. He took sister's away. The devastation is greater than anyone can every imagine.

As a Senior, instead of looking back on all the fun in my high school years, I feel pain as I remember the fun I had with my friends that are no longer with me. My life will never be the same due to someone drinking and driving.

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