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Driver in fatal DWI wreck to get new trial

Posted July 7, 2010

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— A man with a history of DWI convictions deserves a new trial stemming from a drunken-driving wreck more than five years ago that killed a Durham grandmother, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

The appellate judges ruled that Kenneth Wayne Maready had ineffective counsel and might not have understood his defense attorney's trial strategy.

Maready was fleeing a traffic stop when he hit and killed 61-year-old Kay Stokes on Feb. 13, 2005, and injured her 5-year-old granddaughter.

Police said his blood-alcohol level was more than three times the allowable level, and at the time, he had a revoked license and six drunken-driving convictions on his record.

Fourteen months later, Maready was sentenced to 50 to 62 years in prison on a number of convictions, including second-degree murder and two misdemeanor counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

"I don't feel like I have any rights," Stokes' daughter, Marcy Henley, said Wednesday. "He gets the right to have another trial, and my momma is 6 feet under the ground?"

Henley said the court's decision leaves her feeling cheated by the system.

"Now, it looks like Maready has found a loophole," she said.

Appeals court ruling shocks victim's daughter Appeals court ruling shocks victim's daughter

In his appeal, Maready contended that his counsel's assistance was ineffective and that he should be granted a new trial on the murder and assault charges.

His defense attorneys never contested the assault charges, and they said that Maready took responsibility for Stokes' death, even though he never pleaded guilty.

The appeals court and the North Carolina Supreme Court have previously ruled on other aspects of Maready’s appeal.

In January 2008, appellate judges found that the initial traffic stop was unlawful, that some of Maready's convictions were too old to have been considered as evidence in the trial and that the trial judge gave improper instructions to jurors.

The Supreme Court overturned that decision in December 2008, saying there was enough evidence to support deputies' attempt to pull over Maready.

Justices split on whether older DWI convictions should have been allowed and whether the judge's instructions were proper.

They sent the case back to the appeals court to address other claims of judicial error that weren't previously addressed.

The North Carolina Attorney General's Office said prosecutors haven't decided whether to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

If there is no appeal, a new trial will happen in Durham County, possibly later this year, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the Courts said.

Henley said she is tired of years of appeals.

"I'm just sick of it, so sick of it," she said.

62 Comments

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  • SweetB Jul 8, 2010

    THIS IS WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HE ALREADY HAS A RECORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOW HE KILLS SOMEONE AND THEY GIVE "HIM" MORE TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE must demand BETTER. This guy deserves to ROT in jail for being SOOOOOO irresponsible!

  • logicalthinking Jul 8, 2010

    "He gets the right to have another trial, and my momma is 6 feet under the ground?" that summed up the problem with our justice system there.

  • 1 awesome Dad Jul 8, 2010

    We all agree that this man deserves the darkest hole in the prison system. Unfortunately, he has rights and seemingly more rights than his victim. What he did was atrocious and inhumane. Personally, I wouldn't wnat to have his lawyers. Everyone has the right to a fair trial, and if this man had a fair one he wouldn't be where he is at now. If he deserves a new trial so be it, however; his actions took the life of a grandmother, severely injured a child, and placed the safety of others in society in jepoardy. This blatant actions cannot and will not be overlooked. This man will pay his consequences it just seems to take a little while getting there.

  • ConcernedNCC Jul 8, 2010

    jprime: because the justice system is run by career politicians who will do just about anything to get their name in front of the public for their future elections.

  • jprime Jul 8, 2010

    This is absolutely horrid. Why can't we design a judicial systm that ensures fair treatment without letting those who are obviously guilty find loopholes.

  • Duke _Nukem Jul 7, 2010

    mugu...I would love to know the names of all who did not do their jobs: attorneys, Judge, LOE, etc. They should all be: fined, fired, jailed. Lets not let the perp get away with the crimes!
    Ummmm Eduardo1,
    It wasn't the judges, DA's or Leo's read the story. It was his Defense Attroney. Read before you post please. And are you serious? Are you infallible? Maybe you should be locked up or fired on your next mistake at work. Yes. Let's start with you.

  • rhowerton Jul 7, 2010

    The Dealth Pentaly is intentionaly killing some one. I don't think that was the case but still they need to look at the past, but after so many year's they can't conceter them. I know this is bad but the cout's have to do what they have to do

  • rhowerton Jul 7, 2010

    "jbco" no court app attorney. If he Did There The Best

  • rhowerton Jul 7, 2010

    It Doesn't Matter If You Find Out Who His Attorney's Are " You Will Be Charged If You Try To Talk To Them Or Say Anything To Them" For Your Own Please Don't Do That

  • mamabearprotectinghercub Jul 7, 2010

    That isn't right for the lady that lost her life to this person who knew he was doing wrong, & it isn't right for the family. They have more rights then he should have. The family should be able to share there views with the courts & I hope that happens. This isn't right that he is getting out. He should get life or the death penilty for the suffer that he put that lady through, & her family. I am so sorry for the family & this world is so full of people that are bad & hold your head up don't let this bad man get to you, you stand up for what you believe & sorry for your loss.

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