A Gaston County woman will spend two years in prison after police say she hit and killed a man who was trying to help someone stranded on a bridge, and then took off.
The accident killed Ronnie Eudy four years ago.
Charla Davis pleaded guilty Thursday without admitting guilt. She wanted to make sure the judge and everyone understood that as she agreed to spend two years in prison.
“Pleading guilty based upon your belief it's in the best interest to do so,” the judge said.
“Only because it's in my best interest,” Davis said.
Davis blew kisses Thursday to her supporters in court. It was a very different scene than three years ago, when she was sentenced to 26 years in prison for second-degree murder.
More than a year later, the Court of Appeals tossed out that conviction and sentence partially because of an expert witness' testimony. He told jurors he could determine Davis was impaired during the crash because officers still smelled alcohol on her breath the next day.
The appeals court ruled that testimony was unreliable.
“We had lost most of our evidence,” District Attorney Locke Bell said.
The D.A. said he was prepared to try the case again, but had trouble because the state cannot convict Davis of second-degree murder without proving she was impaired.
“The one thing I did not want to happen was for her to walk out of court laughing that she had not been convicted,” Bell said.
So the D.A. offered a plea to involuntary manslaughter.
Davis accepted a two-year sentence for the hit-and-run wreck that killed Eudy and severely injured Betty Adams and a relative.
Adams cried as she talked to Eyewitness News on Thursday.
“A man got killed by helping other people. That's the bad part about it,” she said. “And she almost took my life.”
Davis' attorney said Davis still feels bad about the deadly accident.
“If she thought she hit a person, she would have stopped,” said defense attorney David Phillips.
Eyewitness News talked to the widow of the man killed on the bridge. She was shaken by the plea deal and said she couldn't bring herself to comment right now.