Local News

Man involved in drag-racing deaths has license revoked

Posted August 26, 2009 11:42 a.m. EDT
Updated August 26, 2009 6:05 p.m. EDT

— A Raleigh man who was involved in a drag race on Interstate 540 that killed four teenagers eight years ago pleaded guilty Tuesday to drunken driving and had his license revoked.

Chris Petersen, 25, of 6008 Wintergreen Drive, was sentenced to six months in jail, which was suspended to 18 months on probation. The charge stemmed from a May 9 incident.

Peterson plans to appeal the sentence, saying he needs to be able to drive. He can continue to drive legally pending the outcome of his appeal.

The case is the latest brush with the law for Peterson over his driving.

In June 2004, he 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 May, he was given a 45-day suspended sentence and placed on probation for a year after being convicted of a hit-and-run incident last year.

"Chris has paid the price for all those indiscretions. In this particular (DWI) case, that was counted as an aggravating factor," defense attorney Nick Saparilas said. "There's nothing he can do about those things. He's trying to put it behind him."

Because Peterson has been convicted only of misdemeanors in the past, his probationary sentence for driving while impaired is in line with what is typically given in such cases.