CONCORD Elton Earl Decker, a truck driver accused of killing a pregnant Charlotte woman in a wreck in August 2011, was convicted Thursday of misdemeanor death by vehicle.
District Court Judge Donna Johnson ordered Decker, 53, to spend 10 days in jail and placed him on 18 months probation. Decker also will have to pay a $1,000 fine, perform 100 hours of community service and attend a traffic school.
Garrett Burfield died hours after Deckers dump truck crossed the center line and crashed into her Chrysler minivan in Cabarrus County. She never regained consciousness.
But doctors performed an emergency cesarean section and Burfield gave birth to Rosie. Rosie died the next day in her dads arms.
Burfield had started Ivys Diaper Service in 2009 in honor of her now 4-year-old daughter, Ivy Virginia Madden. Burfield was delivering diapers to a customer in Cabarrus County when the fatal wreck occurred.
Patrick Levingston testified during Thursdays trial that he witnessed the crash and rushed to see if he could help.
He recalled Burfields words: Please help me. Im pregnant. Please get me out of here.
After pausing, Levingston added: There wasnt anything I could do.
Michael Madden bent over and wept as he heard Levingston recall his wifes pleas for help.
Decker testified that he blacked out before the wreck and couldnt remember anything until he came to when his truck was on fire.
I dont know what happened, he said. I dont remember nothing.
Decker said he didnt even know hed been in a crash. Then he saw the minivan.
I could clearly see it was my fault, he said.
Defense attorney David Driscoll urged the judge to find Decker not guilty. He said his client was unconscious at the time of the fatal wreck. He argued that there was no evidence that Decker ever slammed on his brakes to avoid the crash.
His body was behind the wheel, Driscoll told the judge. But his mind wasnt.
Before Decker was sentenced, Michael Madden described his anguish over the deaths of his wife and daughter.
Half my family died because of the actions of Elton Earl Decker, Madden, 35, told the judge. I stand before the court today a depressed, chain-smoking, semi-functional alcoholic a shell of a man. I have lost 60 pounds, cannot sleep regularly and can barely maintain the basic functions of a so-called normal life. All of the utilities to our house have been cut off repeatedly because I cannot seem to keep up with simple tasks like paying bills.
Then he talked about his daughter, Ivy.
She was very strong when I needed her to be, Madden said. Always there to cheer me up, always there to make me smile when she saw a tear in my eye. Always there to remind me that we still have each other. As time goes on, I cry a little less each day.
He told the judge that every 4-year-old has dreams and wishes.
We were at a mall the other day and she asked for a penny to make a wish in the fountain, Madden recalled. Afterwards, she leaned over and told me she had a secret. She wished Mommy and Rosie would come back.