Blackwell Won't Face Death Penalty
Posted April 12, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT
DURHAM — The man accused in the February crash that killed a 4-year-old girl will face a first-degree murder charge, but it won't be a capital case.
Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson agreed with the arguments of Durham District Attorney Jim Hardin that the second-degree murder charges against Timothy E. Blackwell should be upgraded to first degree, but he stopped at making it a potential death penalty case. Consequently, the most Blackwell could face is life imprisonment.
Hardin's move is rare. Blackwell will be only the second person in state history against whom a first-degree murder conviction will be sought in a drunk driving case. The other instance involves a Winston-Salem resident charged with killing two Wake Forest University students in a drunk driving accident in September 1996.
Initially, Blackwell had been charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 27 death of Megan Dail, who had been riding in the family's van driven by her father. The pickup truck Blackwell was driving slammed into the Dail vehicle. Just seconds before, he had also sideswiped a car driven by Megan's mother, Sherry Dail.
Blackwell was also charged with driving while intoxicated, driving with a revoked license, driving left of center, driving with an open container and possession of drug paraphernalia. His record includes 21 citings for driving with a revoked license, and five citings for impaired driving. His license had been permanently revoked in 1989.