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Teen pleads guilty in fatal Knightdale wreck

Posted July 12, 2010
Updated July 13, 2010

— A Wendell teen who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for a wreck that ended the life of his classmate must spend 10 days in jail and speak to other teens on the dangers of speeding, a Superior Court ruled Monday.

Austin Wade Marx was also sentenced to a 16- to 20-month suspended prison term and 36 months on probation for the Dec. 7 wreck that killed Gavin Boyd Westover, 16.

Marx and Westover were students at East Wake High School in Wendell and were going to lunch off campus when the wreck happened on Puryear Road in Knightdale.

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cruden told a judge that Marx lost control of his car, which ran off the road and overturned.

Witnesses reported that Marx's Camaro was traveling up to 90 mph and that he had been racing with a blue Mustang when the wreck happened.

Westover was conscious at the scene but had no brain activity when he arrived at a local hospital, Cruden said. The hospital kept him alive until his organs could be harvested for donation.

"Mere words cannot convey what my heart and my family are feeling," Westover's father, Ted Westover, told Judge Donald Stephens. "Our lives are shattered. It is now seven months since Gavin's death, and we can see little hope or joy in life."

Patty Westover said that, since her son's death, she, her husband and their other son haven't been able to sleep and have had to take anti-depressants. Daily tasks, like grocery shopping, are difficult, because she can't stand to see his favorite foods.

"I miss my Gavin saying, 'Hi mom, how was your day?' every day when I get home from work," Patty Westover said. "Gavin said he loved me every morning before he left for school. He was a happy joy in everyone's lives."

Austin Marx Teen pleads guilty in fatal Knightdale wreck

"All our lives have changed because of Austin Marx, who killed our son," she continued. "Gavin had had so much potential."

Marx must report to the Wake County Detention Center on Dec. 24 to serve his jail sentence. In addition, he must pay $5,000 in restitution to Westover's family, surrender his driver's license, refrain from driving during his probation and meet other conditions of the court.

"There are consequences for your actions. You're a convicted felon today," Stephens told Marx. "You probably don't have a clue about what that means, but I assure you, things that will come easy for everyone else in your class won't come easy to you."

"Yes, sir," Marx replied.

"You'll actually have to be even a better student. You'll have to work even harder than you did. You'll have to be smarter than you have been just to get by."

Marx cried several times Monday morning while listening to Westovers' family.

Family members also asked Stephens to give Marx the maximum sentence possible and to make him an example for teens about the dangers of reckless driving.

"Our son was killed because of the intentional misconduct of Austin Marx. He made a choice," Ted Westover said. "Gavin had no choice. He was at the mercy of Mr. Marx."

Marx's attorney, Lee Turner, said his client was a caring person who made good grades who had a lapse in judgment before the wreck happened.

"It wasn't in his character," Turner said.

Marx expressed remorse in court and told Stephens he wished he could undo the damage and hurt he has caused.

"I know I can never change what happened, but I think about it every day of my life," he said tearfully. "If I could go back in time and fix it all, I would, without a doubt.

"Gavin was a good friend to me, and I really miss him," he added. "I wish I could get him back. There's nothing I can do, and that's what bothers me most."


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  • bombayrunner Jul 13, 2010

    TimeWillTell -- that is exactly my point. I know someone well who was drunk and killed his passenger friend. He paid dearly. And even after many many years he constantly looks tired, worried, worn, subdued, remoreseful. It was a long time ago and I don't think he got a felony out of it ... nevertheless he still hurts from it.

  • bombayrunner Jul 13, 2010

    Whats the difference, running over someone twice isnt a mistake? To my knowledge it is also manslaughter and the result was actually worse. What if she ran over 20? She wan't careful and paying attention at the most important time with people in front of her car and that cost two people their lives.

    There was no intent to kill in either this case or the kids case. What this says is that it tells us something about the way people look at the world. Had it been that kid in his camaro who ran over the lady and baby would he have got manslaughter?

  • bubbasu1 Jul 13, 2010

    I have never forgotten the words of my Drivers Ed instructor 40 years ago " When you get behind that steering wheel remember you are responsible for how that vehicle is driven, not your passengers, not the guy egging you on to race, but you and only you.Don't ever forget the power that 2,000 pound hunk of steel has and what it can do . He was exactly right.Yes there are accidents and you do not have control over other drivers but you do have control over what you do, the decisions you make.I do feel in this case a years worth of incarciration was called for .Mr Marx fared far better than Gavin Westover did . Spending one Christmas in jail does not even come close to the Westover family NEVER having thier son celebrate holidays with them again.

  • wildcat Jul 13, 2010

    I belive we should all pray that all teenagers and young people follow the rules and regulations of the highways and roads to be safe. Pray for the young man who survive, who will carry this burden with him for the rest of his life. Can we do that? Pray. Thanks and I will do the same.

  • JAT Jul 13, 2010

    downtoearth - the 2 accidents were totaly different. First, this wreck wasn't at 3:30am. They weren't without ID, etc.

    Second, I think most of us figure that all kids these days either have a car or have access to a car so unless the car is running from the cops, i doubt we'd assume it was stolen. But if a kid came from a welfare family, yes, it would be a common sense question to ask as to how he could afford a car.

  • JAT Jul 13, 2010

    Well, I for one, didn't use poor judgment at 16, scubagirl, so don't go speaking for "ALL" of us. I was in school, studying, not partying, not driving and pretty much behaving myself. Poor judgment didn't enter into my equation till the mid-20's when I was old enough to handle the consequences and even then, my "poor judgment" was probably equal to everyone else's "below normal"

  • down2earth Jul 13, 2010

    Folks on this blog are so flaky! While I hate that one young man lost his life and another will have to deal with the consequences for the rest of his life, I agree with other bloggers. If this was an African American child RACING and had killed a friend, the comments would be so different. I can see the comments now - "How could he afford a car?" "The car was probably stolen?" "He should get more than a ten day sentence." On and on. Despite the fact that the four that died in a car wreck two weeks ago had criminal records, they TOO were someone's children and they TOO were speeding. You people make me sick with your condescending, racist, judgemental ways.

  • Scubagirl Jul 13, 2010

    Very sad for all involved that this happened. Yes the kid used poor judgement, but we all did at that age.....YES ALL. It's done now so we should move on to another topic, he's going to suffer plenty for years.

  • JAT Jul 13, 2010

    This kid made a very bad choice, one that he knew was wrong, knew was dangerous and knew could possibly result in multiple deaths. Sure, he didn't MEAN for it to turn out the way it did but he assumed that risk when he chose to do what he did.

    As so the person who was hurt by someone and he ended up having a bad life, that's sad; but when you make the decision to break the law and it ends up in a bad way, you have to be man enough to deal with the consequences. Just as he chose to do something dangerous, he can choose to handle the ridicule and show it made him a better person. Blame the only person that needs to be blamed.

    As to kids who do things dangerous despite what their parents teach them - lots of time parents only THINK they teach their kids right. But kids really learn by SEEING what their parents do and say. And as I would never race someone or go 90 mph, I feel free to cast that stone.

  • cap4dogs Jul 13, 2010

    OK, so how many of you on here are perfect because it seems like a lot of you are. Growing up means you do crazy things, you show off, you have severe lapses of judgement. I did, my kids did and I am quite sure, unless any of you are claiming to be Jesus, that each and every one of you at some time has done something that could have potentially gotten yourself or someone else killed. Most of us either got away with it or learned from our misjudgements and lived out our lives. This young man is going to have to pay a very hard price for the rest of his life. Ye who are without sin, cast the first stone. The rest of you, Thank God it wasn't you, or your child and pray for both of these children and their families. May the Good Lord bless and keep you, help you through your pain and grant you forgiveness.