Man involved in UNC reporter's 2003 death convicted of DWI
Posted October 24, 2013
Updated October 25, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — The mother of a sports broadcaster killed a decade ago in a hit-and-run says the man she holds responsible for her son's death isn't living up to a promise he made to her.
After Rabah Samara was acquitted in November 2004 of felony and misdemeanor hit-and-run charges in the death of Stephen Gates, Pat Gates said he promised her he would live a worthwhile life, but he was found guilty Thursday of driving while impaired.
Stephen Gates, a sports reporter at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was changing a tire on the shoulder of Interstate 40 in Orange County on Oct. 4, 2003, when he was hit and killed.
Samara was a passenger in the Cadillac Escalade, but when driver Emily Caveness stopped, he got behind the wheel and drove off. He said at the time that he thought they had hit a deer, although prosecutors said two truck drivers had told him that they had hit Gates.
"Somebody could have called 911. Someone could have made sure Stephen wasn't left behind to die," Pat Gates said.
After that trial, she said, she elicited the promise from Samara.
"I said to him, 'OK, you've gotten off on this, but make your life worthy of the one that was taken,' and he said, 'I will,'" she said.
Since then, Samara has been charged twice with DWI. He was found not guilty in 2006, and the second case brought Pat Gates and her husband, George Gates, to a Wake County courtroom on Thursday.
A Cary police officer testified that Samara was driving drunk in March and failed several field sobriety tests.
"It's like going back into a room that you would rather keep closed," George Gates said of attending Samara's latest trial.
"I think my presence alone will remind him of what he promised. I know it will," Pat Gates said.
Samara was sentenced to 60 days in jail, suspended to 12 months on probation. He also was ordered to surrender his driver's license and perform 20 hours of community service.
Pat Gates tearfully said the punishment was too light.
"I don't consider this keeping that promise," she said.
Caveness pleaded guilty to misdemeanor failure to report an accident as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. She was sentenced to 18 months on probation and completed 200 hours of community service and has had no other charges since then.