Local News

Man involved in drag-racing deaths found guilty in hit-and-run

Posted May 29, 2009 6:24 p.m. EDT
Updated May 30, 2009 7:47 a.m. EDT

— A Raleigh man who was involved in a drag race on Interstate 540 that killed four teenagers eight years ago was found guilty on Friday of hit-and-run.

Chris Petersen, 25, of 6008 Wintergreen Drive, was sentenced to a 45-day suspended sentence and one year of supervised probation.

Petersen also faced charges of filing false police reports in the incident after he told police the vehicle was stolen. He was not found guilty of those charges.

The judge said he didn't take into account some of Petersen's earlier convictions for sentencing but he hoped that Petersen would learn from his mistakes.

Defense attorney Nick Saparilas said that Petersen, whom he called "a nice young man," would do that.

"I do think he's been treated differently by everybody. He is a young man that's made some mistakes, but he's going to go on, and he'll be better for it," Saparilas said.

In June 2004, Petersen pleaded guilty to four counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle and one count of excessive speed in connection with the May 30, 2001, wreck that killed Bryan Reaves, Jamie Brewer, Mike Smith and Matthew Yurcak.

Prosecutors said Petersen was racing with the teens at the time of their deaths. Defense attorneys maintained the teens weren't racing and Petersen wasn't responsible for their deaths.

As part of his probation, Peterson was ordered not to drive for three years. He later served 90 days in jail for violating his probation by driving.

In a separate incident, Peterson faces a May 9 charge of driving while impaired, according to public records.