CHESTER, S.C. - A Chester man was sentenced to 16 years in prison for driving drunk and killing three people in a crash in 2016.
Joey Knox, who is a repeat drunken driver with prior convictions, pleaded no contest to three counts of felony DUI causing death.
"We pray God have mercy on you, because you know what, we've forgiven you,” John Perry, the brother of one of the victims said to Knox. “It's up to you now to forgive yourself for what you did."
Knox broke down in court several times Thursday, hearing the details of that October night in 2016.
Police reports reveal Knox was driving with cocaine, Xanax and marijuana in his system, along with a blood alcohol level of .27.
Knox drove to pick up Anthony Roof, a friend who was also drunk, at a bar.
The van ran off Highway 72, then overcorrected and hit a Dodge pickup truck head-on.
Roof was killed.
Willie Perry and Sir Lawrence Darby, who were in the truck and coming home from DJing an event to fight breast cancer, both died.
Prosecutors described the scene around the demolished vehicles.
“At the scene, there were beer cans strewn about,” prosecutor Candice Lively said. “It was a massive scene of complete destruction."
Tom Hall, Knox’s lawyer, claimed the highway patrol investigation was done too quickly because Knox was charged only a day later.
Hall held up a shredded tire that he said broke apart on Knox's van, causing it to swerve into coming traffic.
Knox could have been sentenced to a maximum of 25 years in prison.
"My heart aches every minute of every day,” Knox said in court. “There is not a day that goes by that I do not pray for your families."
Hall said Knox suffered brain damage in the crash that left him with the mind of a 12-year-old. Hall said he can no longer work and hasn't had any alcohol since that day.
Prosecutors pointed out that Knox had 11 alcohol-related charges prior to the deadly crash in 2016.
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