As she stood 20 feet to the right of the man who pleaded guilty Thursday to the DWI-related deaths of her mother and sister, Cori Favor did her best to keep her composure, even as others were losing theirs.
“SON OF A *****,” a member of the victims’ family thundered at Justin Jones, seconds after Favor began to speak.
After the woman was wrestled out of the courtroom, Favor turned back to face Superior Court Judge Robert T. Sumner.
She spoke of choices.
On the day after Christmas last year, Jones chose to drink, drive, speed and run a red light, she said, his SUV slamming into the car driven by Marie Crook of Charlotte.
Crook, Favor’s mother, died instantly. Jennifer Hunt of Matthews, Favor’s 37-year-old sister, died later from her injuries. Hunt’s daughters, 9 and 5, were seriously injured, comforted for a time by their mother, Favor said.
That night, Favor’s family “had no choices,” she told the judge, as her words blended with sobs, and Jones watched and listened from the defense table a few yards away.
“I’m so angry that he has choices. There is no other place to let it be known that this isn’t fair. This isn’t fair.”
Prosecutors say Jones’ SUV was traveling at about 80 mph when he ran the red light on Matthews Township Parkway. His alcohol level was .21 to .23, well over twice the legal limit.
Under an agreement with the Mecklenburg District Attorney’s Office, Jones pleaded guilty to two counts of felony death by vehicle and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. He will serve between 93 and 150 months in prison.
Given the chance to speak, the 28-year-old Jones turned to the back of the courtroom, facing Favor and his own family. He, too, began to cry.
“I’m terribly sorry for what has happened,” he said, reading from hand-written notes.
Jones’ mother, Rebecca, also stood and faced the family of her son’s victims. She told Favor that her son has taken responsibility for what he did.
“I can’t imagine the pain you’ve been in. We can’t tell you how sorry we are,” Rebecca Jones said. “He’s not a bad person. He’s a person who made a really bad decision.”
After the sentencing, Jones disappeared through a side door in the courtroom. One set of deputies led Favor, her family and friends out the back. They milled around the lobby for a few minutes talking with Assistant District Attorney Tim Sielaff before taking a left hallway toward the fifth floor elevators in the Mecklenburg County Courthouse.
Jones’ family waited with his attorney until the lobby was clear. With a deputy escort, they also exited the courtroom, turning right as they walked through the door.
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