107-year sentence given in hit-and-run
BY BILL BRAUN World Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
9/02/09 at 3:25 AM
A Tulsa County judge who described a jury's verdict as "just" sentenced a woman Tuesday to 107 years in prison on six felonies linked to a five-fatality hit-and-run.
Kimberly Elizabeth Graham must serve five consecutive 20-year prison terms for first-degree manslaughter and a consecutive seven-year prison term for leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
"Five members of our community were killed as a direct result of the defendant's wrongful and criminal conduct," said District Judge Tom Thornbrugh, who denied a defense request for concurrent sentences.
The law requires her to serve at least 85 percent of each of the five manslaughter sentences — which would amount to 85 years — before being eligible for parole.
Graham, who turns 39 on Sunday, picked up the six convictions at a March trial.
Thornbrugh, who did not handle that trial, told her that his review of testimony suggested "your inability at this point in time to accept and take ultimate responsibility."
Assistant District Attorney Jason Rush maintained that Graham was impaired by alcohol when she drove a Dodge Ram pickup into a group of people who had gathered in a Tulsa street to help an injured motorcyclist about 11 p.m. on Nov. 9, 2007.
Killed were De Anna Rosser-Coatney, 42; her husband, Ronald Coatney, 49; Anita Pauline "Polly" Foote, 50; Casey Jones, 29; and Shannon Montgomery Lacey, 36.
Before sentencing Graham, the judge asked if she had anything to say "in addressing the victims," and she replied that she did not.
Defense lawyer Kevin Adams said he had asked her not to make a statement because of concern that anything she said would be "twisted and turned."
Thornbrugh questioned how a possible remark such as, "I'm sorry for the pain that you feel," could be twisted and turned.
While Graham offered no public comment, family members of the victims told about the impact on their lives.
Kathy Mullins, Foote's sister, said Graham's "actions should haunt her" for the rest of her life.
Bobbi Nickel displayed a photograph of Jones, her brother, in the courtroom and said that "my whole family is forever changed."
Jones was not only a brother, but "he was my best friend," she said.
"He lived every day to its fullest."
Nickel said Graham has taken "zero responsibility" and "should never be free to drink and drive again."
Sheila Lacey, Shannon Lacey's mother, said, "Every time I think about this, I'm angry."
Lacey added, "There will never be closure. That's a myth."
In a sentencing memo, Adams requested that Graham get five concurrent sentences for the manslaughters — which would have required her to serve a single 20-year term — plus a consecutive seven-year term for leaving the scene, for a total of 27 years.
The jury trial was conducted by District Judge Tom Gillert. After the trial, Adams asserted that Gillert "displayed open bias against and contempt for the defense throughout the entire trial."
Gillert said he didn't think his conduct reflected any bias, but in May he said the formal sentencing would be handled by another judge.
At the trial, a police officer testified that when interviewed Nov. 10, 2007, Graham said she had been at three bars before the crash and indicated that she drank six beers and two shots at the bars and had a mixed drink before leaving home.
Graham testified that she was not drunk and that while she had been drinking, her driving was not impaired.
She said she did not see the people huddled in the street.
Graham has been in the Tulsa Jail since Nov. 10, 2007.
She plans to appeal the case to the state Court of Criminal Appeals.
Bill Braun 581-8455
Kimberly Graham: She will have to serve 85 years of her sentence before being eligible for parole.