Local News

Mother forgives driver fined $25 for fatal crash

Posted August 6, 2015 11:40 a.m. EDT
Updated August 6, 2015 10:48 p.m. EDT

— A teen driver has been ordered to pay a $25 fine for using a cellphone while driving two years ago in a crash that killed an East Carolina University student from Raleigh.

Mitchell Grey Wilkerson, now 19, originally was charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle in the May 20, 2013, crash. Greenville police said his Ford F-250 pickup crossed the center line on East Arlington Boulevard and slammed into a Honda Accord driven by Elizabeth Griffiths, 20. The senior accounting major was trapped in the car and died at Vidant Medical Center.

The case ended in a mistrial in February when the judge handling the case realized he knew a potential witness. A second mistrial occurred in June when jurors voted 11-1 for acquittal. That prompted a plea deal to the cellphone charge to resolve it.

Wilkerson was 17 at the time of the crash, and state law prohibits anyone younger than 18 from using a cellphone while driving.

"You mean to tell me my daughter's life was only worth $25?" an upset Sharon Carter said Thursday.

Carter said Pitt County prosecutors told her they didn't want to try the case a third time because they didn't think they could win a conviction.

"I felt like they should try the case again," she said. "I still want justice because I don’t feel like justice has been served."

Griffiths, who went by "Lizz," was Carter's only daughter and the youngest of her three children.

"Losing her has had a great impact on my life. There are some days that are still difficult, but it’s getting easier as time goes by," she said. "I don’t think there was a person who knew her who didn’t love her."

Carter said Wilkerson has never apologized to her for her daughter's death, but she said she had to forgive him.

"Because I need to have peace in my life and because I need to move forward, the forgiveness that he will never ask for has already been granted," she said. "I have to trust and believe that the God I serve has a better plan, that he has a purpose and, although it may not have worked out the way I wanted it to, all things work to good in God's eyes."