Local News

Teen pleads guilty in fatal Knightdale wreck

Posted July 12, 2010 10:44 a.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2010 1:05 p.m. EDT

— A Wendell teen who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for a wreck that ended the life of his classmate must spend 10 days in jail and speak to other teens on the dangers of speeding, a Superior Court ruled Monday.

Austin Wade Marx was also sentenced to a 16- to 20-month suspended prison term and 36 months on probation for the Dec. 7 wreck that killed Gavin Boyd Westover, 16.

Marx and Westover were students at East Wake High School in Wendell and were going to lunch off campus when the wreck happened on Puryear Road in Knightdale.

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cruden told a judge that Marx lost control of his car, which ran off the road and overturned.

Witnesses reported that Marx's Camaro was traveling up to 90 mph and that he had been racing with a blue Mustang when the wreck happened.

Westover was conscious at the scene but had no brain activity when he arrived at a local hospital, Cruden said. The hospital kept him alive until his organs could be harvested for donation.

"Mere words cannot convey what my heart and my family are feeling," Westover's father, Ted Westover, told Judge Donald Stephens. "Our lives are shattered. It is now seven months since Gavin's death, and we can see little hope or joy in life."

Patty Westover said that, since her son's death, she, her husband and their other son haven't been able to sleep and have had to take anti-depressants. Daily tasks, like grocery shopping, are difficult, because she can't stand to see his favorite foods.

"I miss my Gavin saying, 'Hi mom, how was your day?' every day when I get home from work," Patty Westover said. "Gavin said he loved me every morning before he left for school. He was a happy joy in everyone's lives."

"All our lives have changed because of Austin Marx, who killed our son," she continued. "Gavin had had so much potential."

Marx must report to the Wake County Detention Center on Dec. 24 to serve his jail sentence. In addition, he must pay $5,000 in restitution to Westover's family, surrender his driver's license, refrain from driving during his probation and meet other conditions of the court.

"There are consequences for your actions. You're a convicted felon today," Stephens told Marx. "You probably don't have a clue about what that means, but I assure you, things that will come easy for everyone else in your class won't come easy to you."

"Yes, sir," Marx replied.

"You'll actually have to be even a better student. You'll have to work even harder than you did. You'll have to be smarter than you have been just to get by."

Marx cried several times Monday morning while listening to Westovers' family.

Family members also asked Stephens to give Marx the maximum sentence possible and to make him an example for teens about the dangers of reckless driving.

"Our son was killed because of the intentional misconduct of Austin Marx. He made a choice," Ted Westover said. "Gavin had no choice. He was at the mercy of Mr. Marx."

Marx's attorney, Lee Turner, said his client was a caring person who made good grades who had a lapse in judgment before the wreck happened.

"It wasn't in his character," Turner said.

Marx expressed remorse in court and told Stephens he wished he could undo the damage and hurt he has caused.

"I know I can never change what happened, but I think about it every day of my life," he said tearfully. "If I could go back in time and fix it all, I would, without a doubt.

"Gavin was a good friend to me, and I really miss him," he added. "I wish I could get him back. There's nothing I can do, and that's what bothers me most."