Local News

Wake Forest Man Faces Murder Charges In Crabtree Valley Mall Death

Posted August 28, 2001

— The man accused of hitting and killing a woman in the parking lot at Crabtree Valley Mall is now facing more serious charges.

The Wake County District Attorney's Office charged Roger Bridges with second-degree murder late Tuesday. He could get up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

"We felt like the facts and circumstances of this case were particularly egregious and warranted a more serious charge," says district attorney Colon Willoughby.

J.P. Huo, who owns Lee's Tailer Shop, was killed Friday as she was standing in the parking lot at Crabtree Valley Mall. Mall police say Roger Bridges was driving drunk when he struck Huo.

Bridges' bond was only $5,000 and he was set free without any jail time. He had been charged with driving while impaired in 1998, but court records show that charge was dropped.

State Reps. Jeff Barnhardt and Michael Decker are co-sponsoring a bill. If it ever becomes law, a drunk driver who kills someone will be charged with second-degree murder. Currently, a driver is only charged with involuntary manslaughter.

"It just shows that some of our judicial system -- the judiciary -- are out of touch with what society really thinks," Decker says.

"People need to be held accountable for what they do," Barnhart says.

"We hear a lot of rhetoric out of this General Assembly, but they never took up my bill and they should have. They never even heard it in committee," Decker says.

The District Attorney's office expects Bridges to appear in court within the next few days as well as ask for an increase in the bond amount.

As for that bill that lawmakers had introduced toughening the penalty for a drunk driver who kills someone, it is, in essence, dead. Those who sponsored the bill say the committee that killed it is made up largely of defense attorneys who often represent people charged with DWI.

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