Website fights to keep drunk driver behind bars

12:16 AM CDT on Tuesday, August 9, 2005




Up for parole, a drunk driver who killed a group of teenagers December 19, 1998 is attracting renewed outrage in the form of a website.

Ricky Carter has served less than five years of a 20-year sentence for the deaths of four cheerleaders from Brock High School, but because of a plea agreement he has already come up for parole once. He was denied then and now the fight is on to make sure that happens once more.

"We wanted people to know just what the price was for our community," said Janelle Sheperd.

Sheperd did not lose a child that night seven years ago, but she said she did lose a night's sleep last week when she learned the drunk driver who killed four students could go free within months. In fact, Shepherd was so adamant about keeping Carter behind bars she started a campaign through a website called Keep Ricky in Jail.

"These families have had so much pain and so much grief," Sheperd said. "How much can they take? Do they really have to have this be their own fight to keep this man in jail?"

The site has biographies for victims Mandi McWhorter, Whitney Welch, Staci Lee and Lacey Osina. She also placed impact statements from family and friends on the site and a link to contact the Victim Service Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

The site has already generated thousands of hits and untold letters, faxes and emails.

Liz Ocina lost her daughter Lacy that tragic night in 1998 and said she is grateful to have found Seperd.

"When I left her home, I got in my car and said a prayer and thanked God for bringing us together," she said.

The website is not the only efforts to keep Carter in jail. The person who received Ocina's donated heart is sending a letter for those considering the case.

However, Texas prison officials said they have never seen anything like the website and Sheperd hopes it can open the eyes of as many as possible.

"I intend to keep it up forever," she said.


Jim Douglas reports