Jul 13, 2015

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DUI Defense: DeKalb DUI driver in triple fatality crash attempted to flee


he alleged drunk driver accused of causing a triple fatal crash Sunday morning attempted to leave the scene in a Good Samaritan’s vehicle, DeKalb police said.

DeKalb County police spokesman Capt. S.R. Fore said Monday that 27-year-old Marvin Lynch had been arrested in connection with the wreck at the intersection of Marbut Road and Lithonia Industrial Boulevard. Lynch, a Marietta resident, was being held at the DeKalb County jail on three counts of vehicular homicide and individual charges of DUI, hit and run and failure to obey a traffic device.

According to Fore, Lynch was driving a Mercedes SUV along Marbut Road at about 7 a.m. Sunday when he ran the red light at Lithonia Industrial Boulevard. He collided with a Nissan Maxima, killing all three occupants.

Those occupants were identified Monday as Cora Rhodes Lyles, 65, of Stone Mountain, and Willie Mae and Vernon Webster Hatley, 65 and 67, respectively, of Raleigh, N.C.

Raleigh TV station WRAL reported that the trio was on the way to church.

After the crash, Lynch allegedly attempted to leave the scene by “getting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle belonging to (a) passerby that stopped to render aid.”

“He was subdued by others on scene until officers arrived,” Fore said.

Speed and alcohol contributed to the crash, Fore said.

Decatur Mayor Pro Tem pleads guilty to drunk driving, sentenced in city court


Decatur Mayor Pro Tem Kecia Cunningham pleaded guilty to charges of driving under the influence and was sentenced on July 8.

Cunningham appeared in Decatur City Court before a DeKalb County Magistrate Judge, Matt McCoyd. The judge was filling in for the city judges, who are appointed by the City Commission.

McCoyd accepted the plea and sentenced Cunningham to 12 months probation, a $750 fine and 40 hours of community service. As part of her sentence, she must undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation. She is also supposed to serve one day in jail, but the judge gave Cunningham credit for the time she served after she was arrested on June 11.

He advised Cunningham that she still had the right to a trial on the charges. Cunningham’s attorney said she understood but wanted to put the episode behind her.

“She has taken full responsibility and is prepared to accept the sentence of the court,” her attorney said.

Under the terms of the plea deal, Cunningham will have a limited driving permit because this is her first DUI offense.

Cunningham has served on the City Commission since 1999, was arrested by a Decatur Police Officer shortly after midnight on June 11.

The officer was travelling eastbound on East College near the intersection with Sams Crossing. He noticed a 2002 Lexus traveling south on Sams Crossing. The officer said the Lexus, “Made an improper right turn onto East College Avenue and failed to maintain its lane.”

“I observed the Lexus make a wide right turn, enter into the center lane of travel, straddling the dotted white line and jerk back into the curb lane headed westbound,” the officer wrote.

The officer made a U-turn and caught up with the Lexus to observe the behavior of the driver. He saw the Lexus begin to “drift heavily within its lane.” The Lexus moved over into the center lane without using a turn signal.

“While traveling the center lane, the Lexus crossed over the double solid yellow line, began straddling the yellow line with the center of the vehicle with both driver side tires in the opposite lane of travel,” the officer wrote. “After traveling several feet, the Lexus drifted back into its own lane of travel.”

The officer turned on his lights and the Lexus pulled into the rear parking lot behind Trackside Tavern. The Lexus is a convertible and its top was down during the stop, the officer noted. He said he immediately noticed a strong odor of alcohol when he began talking to Cunningham. When the officer asked her why she didn’t maintain her lane, she explained that “Something happened near my feet.” Cunningham was not wearing any shoes at the time.

Cunningham told officers she was coming from her office on Johnson Ferry Road. The officer asked if she made any stops on the way home, and Cunningham said she’d been to the Capital City Cigar Club, 19 miles outside the Decatur City Limits. She told the officer she’d had a cigar and a glass of wine 45 minutes before the stop.

During the field sobriety test Cunningham was unsteady on her feet. She had trouble taking the walk and turn test, and at one point had to stop walking to regain her balance. Her blood alcohol level was .147. The legal limit in Georgia is .08.

Cunningham later admitted to the officer she had a vodka and cranberry in addition to a glass of wine. The officer found a bottle opener inside the Lexus and a wine cork inside the trunk.

When Decaturish first reported the arrest, Cunningham expressed regret for her actions.

“I accept responsibility and intend to accept the consequences,” she said. “I anticipate this will be handled as any other matter, and I am embarrassed. It’s a personal matter that I’m embarrassed by.”

Decatur mayor pro tem arrested for DUI


Decatur Commissioner Kecia Cunningham was arrested this month for driving under the influence.

Cunningham, who serves as the commission’s mayor pro tem, was arrested June 11.

“I accept responsibility and intend to accept the consequences. I anticipate this will be handled as any other matter, and I am embarrassed. It’s a personal matter that I’m embarrassed by,” she told Decaturish news website.

According to the police report, Cunningham was stopped shortly after midnight on June 11 after a Decatur police officer noticed her making an improper turn on East College Avenue near Sams Crossing. Cunningham also failed to maintain a lane and was driving erratically, according to the report.

Cunningham told the police officer she stopped at the Capital City Cigar Club in Sandy Springs after work before heading home and that she had a glass of wine, a vodka and cranberry cocktail and a cigar. She agreed to a breathalyzer test and her blood alcohol level was .147; in Georgia, one is considered drunk with a score of .08 or higher.

Cunningham made history in 1999 when she became the first openly gay African American elected to public office in Georgia and the Southeast when she was elected to the Decatur Commission. In 2013 she was named mayor pro tem of Decatur and was reappointed to the post in 2015.

During her time on the commission, Cunningham was a leading proponent of the city adopting a domestic partner benefits policy for its employees.

In 2013 she told Georgia Voice she is bisexual.

Cunningham is up for re-election this year.