One year after losing brother, woman pushes for stronger DUI laws
MARSHALL COUNTY, KY- The words found an on line petition describe just how angry Sherry Key is.
It reads in part, "Her selfish and irresponsible actions had a direct affect on not only the life of Jimmy Harper...but his two sons who now have to grow up without a father."
The words are part of petition Harper's sister launched in an effort to change DUI laws.
"He didn't get the chance to fight for his life, but yet she's getting to fight everyday because she still gets to see her parents, still gets to talk to them on the phone, that's something we'll never have," she said during a phone interview Tuesday from her Jackson, Tennessee home.
'She' is Tiffany Pittman, a teenager investigators say was under the influence when she hit Harper's truck and instantly killed him August 15, 2011.
"We do not want a deal. He would want us to fight for him and that's what we are doing," Key continued.
Key wants deals for DUI offenders and credit for time served to be a thing of the past. In Marshall County, where Harper was killed on his way to work, DUI arrests have been up every month this year compared to the same month last year.
In August alone, they were up 200 percent, going from 8 to 20.
Marshall County Chief Deputy David Maddox says the numbers are proof the law needs to change.
"We've seen the same people many, many times. A lot of the time you have a 4th offense, 5th offense, its not that unusual."
But Sherry Key says it should not be a pattern and is determined it will not be one for her family.
"I don't want to have to live thru this again," she said.
Mark Blankenship, the Commonwealth's Attorney prosecuting the case against Pittman agrees reform is needed when it comes to DUI's.
Currently, there are just two options for a jury. Wanton murder, a class A felony means a sentence of 20 to life. Manslaughter second, a class C felony carries a sentence of 5-10 years behind bars.
Blankenship says there needs to be a charge somewhere in the middle. He believes a class B homicide charge that would carry 10-20 years is the answer.
As for the petition, Key is hoping for 1,000 signatures before presenting it to an elected official. The petition can be viewed and signed at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/744/638/435/we-need-dui-reform-in-the-state-of-kentucky/.
Pittman, 19, is currently incarcerated at the Marshall County Judicial Center. She is set to go to trial December 4th.