Local News

Teen Gets 5 Months in Jail for Fatal Wreck

Posted August 6, 2007

— A teenager driver spent his first night at the Wake County jail Monday after being sentenced in connection with a January wreck that killed a Wakefield High School senior.

Christopher John Palmeri, 18, of High Holly Lane, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the Jan. 14 death of Sadiki Young, also 18.

Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens sentenced Palmeri to 16 to 20 months in prison, with all but five months suspended, placed him on five years' probation and ordered him to perform 300 hours of community service after he serves his time.

Police said Palmeri drank at an underage party and was speeding when he lost control of his 2001 Ford Escort on Wakefield Plantation Drive near Village Spring Road. The car went off the road, spun sideways, clipped a tree and rolled down an embankment, police said.

Excessive speed was the primary factor in the wreck, police said. An accident reconstruction team determined Palmeri was driving at about 72 mph in a 35 mph zone at the time.

Investigators also said Palmeri had a blood-alcohol level of 0.06. That is below the state's 0.08 legal level of intoxication for adults, but he isn't of legal drinking age.

A second passenger in the car suffered minor injuries, police said.

Young's mother spoke at Monday's court hearing of the pain she has experienced since losing her son.

"It rings in my brain like a repeating memory that I can't get out of my head," Rosemarie Newman said. "Does anyone know what it's like for a mother to pray that her child died instantly?"

Newman said Palmeri's sentence does not compare to that pain she's suffered.

"People are not held accountable," said Newman.

Palmeri apologized to Young's family and asked Stephens for mercy.

"If you decide to send me to prison, I'm accepting that. I believe that is a reasonable punishment," Palmeri said.

"But I think, if I do not go to prison, I can make a difference. I can further my education, (do) public speaking at schools and help prevent accidents like this from happening again," Palmeri continued.

The wreck stunned the student body of Wakefield High, coming about 10 months after four other students at the school were killed in an alcohol-related wreck on the U.S. Highway 64 Bypass just east of Raleigh.

Some students expressed outrage at Palmeri's sentence.

"It would seem like he should deserve life in jail for what he did," said Anastasia Raiford.

"To me, the sentence should have been longer," said Kadesha Lykes, also a Wakefield High student. "And he should really pay for what he did."

Stephens told Palmeri that he must live for Young, as well as himself, and that he owed it to Young "to make something of his life."

He urged Palmeri to use his community service time to speak to other teens about the dangers of drinking and driving.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • DC_Merlin Aug 8, 2007

    Here's what I'd like to see: Instead of him giving the speeches to other students about the dangers of drinking and driving in a suit and tie like he's some sort of big-shot once all this is over with, how about they ship him to various schools to give the speeches during his jail time, wearing his jail duds and in wrist and ankle cuffs along with a couple of prison guards that he'll have to get to adjust the microphone for him if he needs it. Now THAT would be a much powerful statement to the other students, and maybe they'd listen a little harder.

  • Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Aug 8, 2007

    "Just curious would only interview those people other then get others from the schools opinions"

    And seriously, can anyone interpret this for me?

  • Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Aug 8, 2007

    If it was just an "ACCIDENT!" involving one minor traffic violation then he would have been charged with a misdemeanor and not received any jail time. You've got to be kidding me if you think this is "just" an accident.

  • Rocknhorse Aug 8, 2007

    "c4, why should an ACCIDENT! Where a kid lost one of his friends be punishable of 5-10 years or any years??? "

    IF he had been driving the posted speed, and IF he had not been drinking, and IF he had not been driving recklessly, and IF after such an "accident" he immediately called 911 for help for his friend, then I would agree that jail time was not necessary.

    But he was more than double the speed limit, he'd been drinking (underage), he was driving recklessly, he left the scene to clear any sign of alcohol so that he wouldn't get caught, he left his "friend" in a car w/o any help and his friend died. He was more concerned about his own skin than the life of his friend.

    When you drink and drive, go excessive speed limits and are reckless, it's not an accident, it's a wreck. Accident would indicate mistake or unavoidable. This wreck was completely avoidable if he'd been more responsible.

  • disney was the best- lol Aug 8, 2007

    sadiki had probably been preached to before as well NOT to get into a car with someone driving that has been drinking...just like im sure palmeri was preached to about never driving when u have been drinking. anyone of them could have died...

  • casp3r Aug 8, 2007

    Decker= This whole he will have to live with this forever thing just dont cut it with me. This guy did not call 911 after the accident while his friend was dead or dying there. He worried about his own &*^ not his friends.

  • casp3r Aug 8, 2007

    Decker= There is alot more than just an accident. He was drinking under age, driving over twice the legal speed limit, then after the accident he did NOT call 911 for emergancy help so his friend was dying and maybe even saved if he would have called 911. Then to beat all leaves the seen of the accident to cover up the boozing at the party.

  • disney was the best- lol Aug 8, 2007

    decker~ i totally agree with you there

  • Decker Aug 8, 2007

    c4, why should an ACCIDENT! Where a kid lost one of his friends be punishable of 5-10 years or any years???

    He had an accident and unfortunatly Sadiki died, It's terrible that a young life was lost. and I feel terrible for his mother and his family, but this was Sadikis friend who crashed and the fact he has to live with that death for the rest of his life is punishment enough to me.

  • disney was the best- lol Aug 8, 2007

    c4sp3r~ i agree although there is not really a good excuse but i guess he was scared and didnt know what to do.....