Local News

Harnett teen gets prison time for wreck that killed girlfriend

Posted April 23, 2012 11:18 a.m. EDT
Updated April 23, 2012 5:55 p.m. EDT

— A Harnett County teenager pleaded guilty Monday to voluntary manslaughter in a 2010 wreck that killed his girlfriend at a Walmart store between Dunn and Erwin.

Dillon Tart's parents and defense attorneys contend he must have had a seizure – he had a history of the attacks – and that he did not intentionally drive his Chevrolet Blazer erratically through the Walmart parking lot and crash it into the store. His passenger, 16-year-old Ashley Moore, was a junior at Triton High School in Dunn.

Dr. Rukmini Menon, with East Carolina University Neurology, testified for the defense that she diagnosed Tart with epilepsy. He had two seizures in November 2007 and July 2008 and was not on an anti-seizure medication at the time of the wreck, she said.

Prosecutors showed video of Tart's crash and said that witnesses claimed to see the teens arguing heatedly inside the SUV shortly before the wreck.

"It would have been no different had he brought out a gun and shot her," state Deputy Attorney General Hal Akins said.

Teachers and friends testified Monday that the couple was in love, and they saw no signs of problems between them. One teacher called Tart a good student who adored his girlfriend.

Defense attorneys hoped that evidence of Tart's medical condition would lessen his sentence, and they got their wish, although he will serve jail time. He was sentenced to between four-and-a-half and up to seven years in prison.