WRAL Investigates

Wilson County has high rate of dismissing speeding tickets

Posted June 8, 2010
Updated July 23, 2010

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— A Kenly man involved in a fatal Sunday morning crash has a history of driving violations that were pleaded down to lesser charges in court.

Jimmy Vincent Coleman, 34, of West First Street, was charged with two counts of felony death by motor vehicle and one count of driving with a revoked license. He was being held Tuesday in the Wilson County jail under a $100,000 secured bond.

Jimmy Coleman, charged in Wilson double-fatal wreck Suspect in fatal wreck had numerous speeding violations

Police said that Coleman was driving a vehicle that hit and killed pedestrians Amie Sullivan, 25, and Nikki Whitley, 22, in the 3400 block of Raleigh Road Parkway.

Coleman has a history of traffic offenses, including six speeding tickets since 2001according to state Department of Correction records. Court records show that five were resolved by guilty pleas to having an improper muffler, and one was reduced to a lesser speeding charge.

WRAL Investigates found that Coleman's case isn't unique in Wilson County, which has had a high rate of dismissing speeding tickets for at least the last five years.

In 2008, for example, prosecutors in Wilson County dismissed 14.4 percent of speeding infractions, compared with 6.2 percent statewide, according to court figures. Last year, the county's 20.8 percent dismissal rate was nearly triple the statewide rate of 7.1 percent.

Wilson County District Attorney Robert Evans declined to comment Tuesday on Coleman's case or the high rate of dismissals.

Evans was named to the office a year ago following the retirement of longtime District Attorney Howard Boney, and he said he has worked to make changes since then. He wouldn't say whether he considered dismissals of speeding tickets an area of concern.

"(Coleman) shouldn't be allowed on the street or even near cars," said Paul Mirakaj, the owner of Paul's of New York Restaurant in Wilson, where Whitley worked.

Mother: Motorist who hit daughter shouldn't have been driving Mother: Motorist who hit daughter shouldn't have been driving

Lisa Whitley, Nikki’s mother, also said Tuesday that Coleman shouldn’t have been on the road.

“There has got to be more that police can do to stop these people from driving. Stop taking their license and put them in jail,” Lisa Whitley said.

The mother also said she doesn’t think Coleman will serve prison time for the crash that killed her daughter.

“My daughter was 22 years old. She had a good 60 years of life left. How much you want to bet this man won't get but 20 to 30 years, if he gets that? I’m pretty sure he will probably walk. That’s the way I feel about the justice system,” Lisa Whitley said.

Whitley's family said she worked late at the restaurant Saturday and then met Sullivan for dinner. The women then decided to walk home and were hit and killed at about 4:20 a.m. Sunday.

"She was a real great girl," Mirakaj said of Whitley. "Nobody deserves to die, but it's was just really heartbreaking."

The restaurant is collecting donations from employees and customers all week and plans to give that money, along with half of Friday's profits, to Whitley's family to help pay for her funeral.

2005: N.C.
N.C. Speeding Ticket Total Filed: 332,592
Dismissed without leave in District Court: 19,686
N.C. percent dismissed: 5.9%

2005: Wilson
Wilson speeding ticket total: 1,775
Dismissed without leave in District Court: 263
Wilson percent dismissed: 14.8%


2006: N.C.
N.C. speeding ticket total: 368,278
Dismissed without leave in District Court: 23,400
N.C. percent dismissed: 6.35%

2006: Wilson
Wilson total speeding ticket: 1,589
Dismissed without leave in District Court: 232
Wilson percent dismissed: 14.6%


2007: N.C.
N.C. speeding ticket total: 391,184
N.C. dismissed in District Court: 23,462
N.C. percent dismissed: 5.9%

2007: Wilson
Wilson speeding ticket total: 2,137
Dismissed without leave in District Court: 251
Wilson percent dismissed: 11.7%


2008: N.C.
N.C. speeding ticket total: 366,883
Dismissed without leave in District Court: 24,370
N.C. percent dismissed: 6.6%

2008: Wilson
Wilson Speeding ticket total: 1,654
Wilson Dismissed in District court without leave: 271
Wilson percent dismissed: 16.3%


2009: N.C.
NC speeding ticket total: 370,607
Dismissed without leave in District Court: 27,045
N.C. percent dismissed: 7.2%

2009: Wilson
Wilson speeding ticket total: 1605
Dismissed without leave in District Court: 378
Wilson percent dismissed: 23.5%

37 Comments

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  • atbatasi Jul 28, 2010

    Dan,Please do some more investigative reporting and go to Nash County and look up Thomas Austin Rose to see over one hundred dismissals, reductions and disappearances in a very short four years.Please please do this for all our children.

  • CarolinianByChoice Jun 9, 2010

    Checking the reports in the Wilson Daily Times isn't as exactly convenient since they want you to have a subscription to access their stories on the internet . . . .

  • ctaylor223 Jun 9, 2010

    If you cannot access the accident report, the Wilson Daily did report in the paper on Tuesday that he did in fact run off the road, that they were not in the road.

  • amyprice29 Jun 9, 2010

    Where do you go to see the accident report???? I havent heard that he ran off the road.

  • ctaylor223 Jun 9, 2010

    The court system is & should be held accountable for this. If you all will look at the Wilson Daily Times from Monday's issue you will see this guy had a page of tickets & violations that were majority dismissed including trafficking charges. He was pulled in August '09 after losing his license because of a DWI in April '09 and was cited for driving w/ revoked license, alcohol in front seat, & out of date tag/inspection. Guess what? His ticket for the driving w/ revoked was dismissed. Come on!!! He should have immediately been sentenced some sort of jail time here. He has had several issues outside of just speeding when it came to driving that were dismissed due to a crooked legal system. What is the point of writing the ticket if it isnt followed through with? Not to mention because of this criminal & others our insurance premiums are higher. A cop has a frustrating job from my view here in that they try to enforce the law, but our legal system sweeps it under a rug.

  • just my2cents Jun 9, 2010

    wattsun. He did run off the road. see the accident report!

  • just my2cents Jun 9, 2010

    his hiney should have been in JAIL.

  • just my2cents Jun 9, 2010

    They are awaiting toxicology reports bc he refused a breathalizer, but was very obviously drunk. These girls were not in the roadway, but on the grass. They did not do anything to cause their deaths.

  • just my2cents Jun 9, 2010

    I live in Wilson Co and know what a racket it is between the lawyers and judges. Most are good friends, or kin, and pad their pockets this way. It is truly a joke here, that you can get out of anything in Wilson with enough money to pay off your lawyer and judge. If the "right" judge is not presiding, they continue it. There is a good judge left in the NEW area.

  • CarolinianByChoice Jun 9, 2010

    darlenerivera2000, while I agree the court system could have done a better job with previous tickets (speeding reduced to an improper muffler, Come on!) I do not agree the court system is responsible for what happened. This guy was driving while impaired & while his license was revoked. He shouldn’t have been behind the wheel & now two young ladies are gone & their families are grieving.

    What ever happened to personal accountability? Someone gets scalded by hot coffee at the McD’s drive-thru & they sue – instead of admitting they didn’t handle the HOT coffee properly. This guy’s license was revoked & he decided to break the law and drive anyways, but it is the court system’s fault? It is HIS fault, period.

    I’d also love to see people driving on revoked licenses get a mandatory 30 days also but given crowding at jails/prisons this probably isn’t feasible – we have to leave room for the felons . . . .

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