Local News

Drunken driver denied new trial in fatal wreck

Posted December 12, 2008 12:55 p.m. EST
Updated July 7, 2010 5:37 p.m. EDT

— The state Supreme Court on Friday overturned an appellate court's ruling granting a new trial to a man convicted of murder in a 2005 drunken-driving wreck.

Kenneth Wayne Maready was convicted of second-degree murder in the Feb. 13, 2005, death of Kay Stokes. He was sentenced to at least 50 years in prison, including 20 years on other charges in the case.

Police said Maready's blood-alcohol level was more than three times the allowable level when he stole a car, fled from deputies who had pulled him over and crashed into a pickup. Stokes, 61, died in the wreck, and her 5-year-old granddaughter was hurt.

At the time of the wreck, Maready had a revoked driver's license and six drunken-driving convictions on his record.

The state Court of Appeals overturned the conviction in January, ruling that the initial traffic stop was unlawful, that some of Maready's convictions were too old to have been considered as evidence in the trial and that the trial judge gave improper instructions to jurors.

The court ordered that Maready receive a new trial in the case.

The Supreme Court reversed that ruling, saying there was enough evidence to support Durham County deputies' attempt to pull over Maready. Justices split on whether older DWI convictions should have been allowed and whether the judge's instructions were proper.

The case will be sent back to the Court of Appeals to address other claims of judicial error that weren't previously addressed.