RALEIGH, N.C. — A Sampson County man made his first court appearance Thursday morning on charges stemming from a July 10 accident that killed an inmate working along Interstate 40.
Frederick Henri Beaujeu-Dufour, 37, of Clinton, faces a charge of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle in the death of Charles Wilson, 31.
Wilson was part of a Wake Correctional Center work crew that was picking up trash in the I-40 median near Lake Wheeler Road when Beaujeu-Dufour lost control of his sport utility vehicle and skidded into the median.
Wilson died, and another inmate and correctional officer were injured.
Wilson's family members were also in court, wearing shirts with pictures of the victim, who was known as "Peanut" to his loved ones.
"We refuse to allow Charles to be dead. We refuse to let him die," Wilson's sister, Markeita Wison, said. "So, we're going to do everything possible to keep (his memory) alive."
Beaujeu-Dufour's attorney, Rick Gammon, said his client simply made a mistake behind the wheel and swerved when he saw brake lights in front of him.
Gammon said his client feels a great deal of remorse and "wishes he could turn the clock back."
"It's going to weigh heavily on him," Gammon said. "He'll never forget it. He probably will never get behind the wheel of a car again without thinking about what happened."
The trial date is Oct. 3. If convicted, Beaujeu-Dufour he will most likely get probation and a fine as well as lose his license for a year, Gammon said.
Hardison Wood, the attorney for Wilson's family, said they are still considering civil litigation against Beaujeu-Dufour and that the state Department of Correction, which was responsible for the work crew, could be sued as well.
"We're still investigating," Wood said. "It's critical we get all the facts and take this one step at a time."
Supervisors of the work crew violated state policy by not putting up signs warning drivers that work was happening in the area, DOC spokesman Keith Acree said last month.
"The signs are required. We know they should have been there," he said. "We're trying to find answers as to what happened that morning that they didn't take them with them," he said.