Local News

Raleigh man gets 10-13 years in prison for fatal St. Patrick's Day crash

Posted May 5, 2014 4:16 p.m. EDT
Updated May 5, 2014 6:48 p.m. EDT

— A Raleigh man pleaded guilty Monday to killing an elderly couple in a head-on collision on Wade Avenue on St. Patrick's Day last year.

Ray Norman Rouse IV, 35, was sentenced under a plea agreement to 128 to 166 months in prison for two counts of second-degree murder and one count of driving while impaired. His driver's license also was revoked.

Rouse, who remains in a wheelchair almost 15 months after the crash, said little during the 30-minute court hearing.

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Jason Waller said Ormond Jackson Bailey, 83, and his wife, Gaynell Batton Bailey, 79, were on their way home from church to watch the ACC Tournament championship game when Rouse, driving the wrong way on Wade Avenue, slammed into their 2002 Mercury Marquis.

Rouse had been drinking at a Sunday brunch at a Glenwood South restaurant, and other drivers saw him ignore a "No Left Turn" sign on West Street and head west in the eastbound lanes of Wade Avenue, Waller said.

At least two other vehicles were able to avoid Rouse's speeding 2008 Kia Spectra – investigators determined he was traveling at 40 to 45 mph in a 35-mph zone – but the Baileys collided with him on a curve near the Glenwood Avenue interchange, Waller said.

Rouse's blood-alcohol content was measured at WakeMed later that day at 0.21, which is almost three times the 0.08 level at which a driver is considered impaired under North Carolina law. He also had generic Xanax and a second anti-anxiety drug in his system, Waller said.

The prosecutor noted that Rouse was convicted of DWI in Durham County in 2002 and had two other DWI charges dismissed in recent years. He also appeared in a 2012 television interview calling St. Patrick's Day "a beer drinking day" and advocating the use of designated drivers.

"There's certainly a history here, and Mr. Rouse is aware of the dangers of drinking and driving," Waller said.

Defense attorney Matthew Faucette said Rouse has diabetes and has several times in the past gone into diabetic shock while driving when his blood sugar dropped too low. The same thing could have happened before the fatal collision, he said.

The Bailey family said they wanted the plea deal to avoid having to go through a trial.

"This has been very difficult for our entire family," they said in a statement read in court. "We know it also has been very difficult for Mr. Rouse and his family."

Before the plea hearing, Rouse's parents approached the Bailey family and apologized for the crash, adding that they have prayed for the family often during the past year.

Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens praised the Bailey family for seeking closure through the plea deal and not holding out for a trial and a possible longer prison sentence for Rouse.

"I commend them on their strength to restrain their rage," Stephens said, adding that their parents likely wouldn't have wanted the family consumed by anger.