Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mallory Hood is Sentenced to 18 Years Proving South Carolina Courts are Out of Control

The Charleston Post and Courier recently reported that Mallory Hood a 22 year old Mount Pleasant, South Carolina woman was sentenced to 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to the felony DUI death of a Navy sailor.

In May 2008, Justin Elliott, 24, and three other motorcyclists stopped at a Highway 17 red light in front of the Towne Centre in Mount Pleasant. As the group accelerated, Elliott lost control of his bike and fell into the oncoming traffic.

That's when a Ford Explorer driven by Mallory L. Hood drove through the intersection, running over Elliott. He died on the scene, suffering massive injuries. A second motorcyclist also was struck and severely injured.

Hood was later pulled over by police who detected a strong odor of alcohol. A blood test administered three hours after the accident set her blood alcohol at .26 — far above the state's legal limit of .08. Police estimates are that at the time of the incident, her blood alcohol content was as high as the .30 range.

Hood had been held since her arrest unable to make bond and was assigned a public defender. (Cedar Posts is aware that the Post and Courier story reports that she was released on a $50,000 bond).

I understand those who think 18 years is justified. But frankly I don't care to spend my tax dollars to screw up Ms. Hood's life any more than it is already. I won't feel any safer with Ms. Hood in prison, when rapists and gang bangers are out roaming the streets.

I don't see any benefit in putting this girl in prison, when violent offenders are getting a free pass and our state prisons are already over crowded.

Clearly this girl got a raw deal and because she lacked the financial resources to have a proper defense she spent the last two years in jail waiting to be sentenced. A sentence that does not fit the crime.

The system is broken, and this girl is the poster child for judicial reform in South Carolina. Her sham defense attorney is a joke should be ashamed. The courts and the judge should be ashamed as well.

A little more than six months after Hood's May 2008 accident, another DUI fatality occurred on the James Island connector in Charleston. Amy McCormick who had two prior convictions for DUI entered the expressway going in the wrong direction at 1 o'clock in the morning. Less than two miles later she struck, head on a car belonging to Brett Maynard. Mr. Maynard died at the scene. Maynard's wife and McCormick's son were also injured.

Amy McCormick plead guilty to four counts of felony DUI in July of 2oo9 and was given a ten year prison sentence, credit for time served. She will be eligible for release in 2015.

Why was Mallory Hood given a sentence nearly double, despite the fact that she had no prior DUI convictions, and the fact that the accident may have not been avoidable? Hood will be eligible for release in 2027.

And the masses are silent because this could never happen to them. Think again! This could be you or your daughter.


Anonymous said...

Come on Cedar... Are you kidding me? I know it looks bad when you compare the pitiful punishments of NC to SC. But really, kudos to SC. 18 yrs may have been a hefty sentence, but when you drink and drive and end up killing someone, should there not be a stiff punishment? I know we are all used to people killing others and ending up on probation here in NC (which is ignorant and ridiculous), but really. Sure it could have been my daughter, but it also could have been mine or your son laying there dead while a drunk driver sped away. Then a slap on the wrist wouldn't feel so good!

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:16
Agree 100%.

Anonymous said...

I think Cedar is right 18 years is excessive. Time served would be enough. Just how is this so much worse than a CMPD officer mowing down a car full of people?

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:41

She was willfully legally intoxicated, drunk.

I, too, think we need ZERO tolerance for drunk drivers.

That is the only thing that is going to get them off the road.

Anonymous said...

Is there sometimes a big gap in sentences? Oh my YES but in the same breath, I still have no pity for Mallory Hood. Considering she's the only one who did anything wrong, I really have no pity for her.
Justin got a death sentence and Joshua has to endure a lifetime of physical therapy and being robbed of countless activities he was able to do before when they were doing NOTHING wrong. Stack that up against Mallory and I think she got off easy.

Anonymous said...

How does a motorcycle rider end up on the ground in a busy street.He was drunk and popping wheelies. The driver of the car was drunk, but it sounds like an accident. Many people can say that could have been the them driving that day. To be sentenced for 18 years for a first time offense is injustice.She wasn't driving on the wrong side of the road, and putting people in danger. The motorcycle rider put himself in the danger

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:00

I take it you have never ridden a motorcycle.....It's quite easy to stall a motorcycle when shifting.
Get the facts, sound a little "off".

There is no excuse for getting behind the wheel of a car when you have been drinking, and are legally drunk...NO EXCUSE. It is a choice. She was putting herself and others in danger when she made that choice. Her car became a lethal weapon. I would wager a bet it wasn't the first time.

Anonymous said...

We have the most insane legal system. The most advanced country in the world has an exploding prison population and for what?

Some halfwit judge pulled 18 years out of her ass. Like judge snails I,ve sent boys younger that you to the gas chamber I felt I owed it to them.

Anonymous said...

I don't normally agree with Cedar Posts. But I'll agree with this and so many others as well. Two years ago two Charleston boys we sent to prison for ten years for robbing a subway in Mt. Pleasant, with a BB Gun.

Crazy, to send first time offerders to prison.

Someone said they thought Mallory had priors, well you would think, but she didn't.

So you got to ask yourself what are we going to do with these people when they come out of prison at 42 for Mallory or 28 for the two Charleston boys?

They can't ever really return to society, they will never be able to cope.

This as Cedare said the sentence doesn't fit the crime.

Anonymous said...

Nope, didn't say she had priors...just said it probably wasn't the first time she had gotten behind the wheel of a car after drinking.

Many get "lucky" and aren't "caught"....

No one got lucky in this.

But once again, a personal say it's okay to drink and drive.

Anonymous said...

Cedar, are you assuming her lawyer was ineffective just because she got 18 years, or do you have any more information?

Don't slander Public Defenders. Some of the best defense lawyers I've ever met are career PD's.

Susan Weigand, for example. Or Kevin Tully. Going to trial with those guys is like stepping into the ring with a velociraptor.

In trial courts, we have a rule that all of us try to follow - prosecutors, defenders, judges and law enforcement alike: Don'second-guess what happened in court if you weren't there to see it firsthand.

By the way, are you obsessed with fair sentencing in all cases, or just the ones involving blue-eyed blondes?

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir:
As a public defender, I take offense to your characterization of Mallory Hood’s attorney as a “sham.” I am not very familiar with the facts of Ms. Hood’s case other than what I have been able to find quickly online. I write because it is people like you who poison the minds of many about what public defenders do or do not do.
By and large public defenders are individuals who choose to represent those charged with some of the most heinous offenses because we believe in the Constitution of the United States and are morally and ethically called to uphold our Constitution. We forego the opportunity to earn large sums of money because we endeavor to help people. We do not do this thankless work for money, glory, or fame.
As United States Attorney General Eric Holder recently stated:
…lawyers who accept our professional responsibility to protect the rule of law, the right to counsel, and access to our courts – even when this requires defending unpopular positions or clients – deserve the praise and gratitude of all Americans. They also deserve respect. Those who reaffirm our nation’s most essential and enduring values do not deserve to have their own values questioned. Let me be clear about this: Lawyers who provide counsel for the unpopular are, and should be treated as what they are: patriots.
Ms. Hood’s situation appears to be a tragic twist of fate. I have represented clients in similar, if not worse situations. I recently represented a client charged with vehicular homicide while under the influence (the equivalent in my state, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison). She received a sentence of 60-90 days of inpatient alcohol counseling followed by six months in a pre-release center followed by ten years of probation. This sentence was in excess of what the government recommended. Please tell me how my “sham” of a defense contributed to this.
Back to your blog post, I agree the sentence imposed on Ms. Hood was far out of line. The sentence seems be simply punitive without any thought to what we now believe to be the principles of incarceration in many jurisdictions. Yes, the system is broken. However, the failings of the criminal justice system have more to do with overzealous prosecutors and judges (who still think they are or wish they had been prosecutors).
I believe that were you to find yourself in a terrible situation, charged with a heinous crime (or fairly minor crime), you would find great relief if you saw me or any of my colleagues standing at your cell door.
Please, do not criticize what you do not know.
I am also confused by the newspaper articles telling the public that Ms. Hood had been out on bail while this matter was pending and your post that she was incarcerated the entire time.
Finally, I suggest if you continue to write about individuals convicted of driving under the influence charges that you should not have your blog photo show you with a drink in your hand. These things can come back to bite you.

Cedar Posts said...

Mallory Hood was represented by Drew Carrol who is a DUI lawyer in Charleston, a graduate of USC and a 12 year member of the South Carolina Bar. His speciality is DUI defense.

I suggest he had no business handling a murder case.

Yes Cedar is all up in arms about the lack of fair sentencing in the Carolinas. Blonde hair and blue eyes or person of color 18 years is just all kinds of wrong.

If you kill someone in a car accident and you're sober you get a slap on the wrist. No excuse except being careless.

How careless can a drunk be? We have, dozens of cases of wrongful death each year and average sentence for willful disregard for human life is six months!

Again the defense Ms. Hood was given is a sham. Having Drew Carrol represent her makes as much sense and letting the cable guy do a root canal.

We have a law on the books that encourges people to drink and drive, as long as you don't drink too much it ok. And that is nuts, because we are asking someone who is drunk to know when they are drunk.

We need a hard and fast law, a simple law, you drink you must wait 12 hours before you can drive. Period.

As far as the drink in my hand, I love lemmon-aid and those who know me know I don't drink, and drive.

ThaQueenCity said...

TO: May 5, 2010 11:26 PM

PLEASE, Eric Holder's former law office, Covington & Burling, defended many of the terrorists being held at Gitmo... and to quote his speech " Lawyers who provide counsel for the unpopular are, and should be treated as what they are: patriots."

I didn't know it was patriotic to represent terrorists? Thanks for setting the ignorant masses straight! Now go away and crawl back into your "patriotic cage" with the rest of the Eric Holders....

Anonymous said...

Queen City,
Whether it is a military tribunal,an international tribunal, or a civilian court, even terrorists have a right to much as I would like to disagree with that.

People were held at Gitmo, for literally years, with no representation.

And a lot were innocent people caught up in the net.....we threw the baby out with the bath water.

Anonymous said...

We should add lawyers to the bath water!

Anonymous said...

I do know the facts of the case and her lawyer told her to plead guilty because she would only get at maximum 5 years! A lawyer who is experienced would NEVER tell someone to plead guilty to something with a maximum of 25 years and just say your prayers the night before! There were witnesses who came forward that saw the victims in a bar minutes before. He was celebrating a going away party and everyone who has been around the military knows what these party consist of..heavy drinking. No, her drinking and driving isn't acceptable but how many of us sober could have not run over someone laying in the middle of a busy road like highway 17 and it be called a terrible accident. So no Mallory shouldn't have been driving, but neither should the victim!!!

Anonymous said...

"I think Cedar is right 18 years is excessive. Time served would be enough. Just how is this so much worse than a CMPD officer mowing down a car full of people?

May 5, 2010 12:41 PM"

In response to the above post:
Well let's start by blowing a .26???

Oh and leaving the scene???

But that's just my 2 cents!!!

Anonymous said...

So Anon May 6, 2010 4:22 PM

What you're saying is she plead to a crime she could have received 25 years for and the judge was lenient and gave her 18 years?
Ohhh no? So instead we should blame the victim? Just as we should blame the little old lady for shopping by herself and it would be her fault she got raped because she had no business being out by herself!
Or should we blame the government for allowing alcohol to remain legal?
Ohhhhhhh, I forgot...
God fordid someone plead guilty to a crime they WERE guilty of!
SC is not Mecklenburg, she wouldn't have gotten away with murder by taking it to trial!

Anonymous said...

What I read said she was stopped by Mt. Pleasant Police a block away. No bad for a drunk if you ask me.

I checked it out most Felony DUI case get 8 years not 18.

Something is just not right here.

Anonymous said...

You are right, something is not right here!!!

Getting caught a block away is a block away from the scene and key word would be "caught".

And the "something" that is not right is the fact that someone lost their life to a drunk driver...

Anonymous said...

Time served is enough, are you kidding me? She didn't serve any time. Her rich parents bailed her out and she has been on the beach fishing and sailing with her boyfriend for the last two years. I personally know this chick and I think she deserves everything that she received. To say she is a victim of not being able to afford representation is misinformation. I know for a fact that her step-dad makes several hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. This story also left out that after she hit and killed the first person and injured the second, she tried to flee the scene.

Anonymous said...

My question, as with the MT P boys, what will you all expect when these kids are 26 & 40 released from prison after being mentored by rapist, murderers, child molesters 24/7. Whatca gonna say & do when these prison, screwed up kids come back to live in your neighborhoods?

Yes, they need to be punished but again being mentoried 24/7 for 10 to 18 yrs by hardened criminals at such formative years- that's not punishment, that's society asking to give up back really screwed up citizens to come back into our society!

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:55

Maybe your right, let's set a great example, slap on the wrist and let them know it's ok.

Or maybe they can take advantage of the programs in prison and even work release and take resoonsibility for their actions. And I highly doubt child molesters and rapist will be mentoring anybody since they're usually in PC!

I guess we should treat murders, rapists and child molesters the same way. Oh but wait, you already said that since that's what the dwi killer should have been charged with!

Anonymous said...

To the person that personally knows her- how personally do you know her? Because if you did you would not be saying the things you say about her!! She made a bad choice and she was very willing to plead guility and serve time for her bad choice. The sad part is the other kids were making bad choices that night also. They were known to be drinking and driving also. She didn't want anyone to say anything bad about the victims. When you are drunk and driving you do not know want you are doing. She did not hit them on purpose. She was drunk!! When people are drunk they do not know what they are doing that is why you should never drive after drinking!! I hate alcohol nothing good comes from it!!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if it's true or not--- the motorcycle drivers were also out drinking alchol at a celebration party and the one killed actually lost control of his bike and fell into the oncoming traffic which happened to be Hood?

Unknown said...

I personally know Mallory. And I will pray for her and all of you "Anonymous" people who have never made any mistakes. It must be nice. David R. Henley. That's me.

Anonymous said...

Forcing this drinking and driving law will not change America for those of you who think this is true. Obviously it hasn't thus far, people are going to do what they are told not to- so they will drink and drive. As stupid and as wrong as it is, it's the truth. And for this young girl, I somewhat understand what she is going through (i have my reason's). I do believe that 18 years is a little harsh, and I understand that death was involved... but 18 years?? What will 18 years do that 5 or 6 cannot??

Anonymous said...

my son was drinking and driving and his best friend was killed when they got into an accident, he was also sentenced to 18 years. I'ts a terrible thing when some one losses there life, but to send these people to prison for 18 years is not right. They are already living with a life sentence knowing that because of there choices some one has lost there life.

Anonymous said...

You should probably know a little bit more about the accident before you pass judgement on just how hard she got it. She was high and drunk (clearly) when she hit Elliot. After she hit him, she dragged his body so far with her car, that when the command went and put his military uniform on his lifeless body, he was FLAT. He was a good student, who died because someone else was too selfish to stay home and got behind the wheel of a car. Think again, that could have been your son.

Anonymous said...

What it not true, the motorcycle riders were also "under the influence of alchol" and the one killed had lost control of his bike and lying in the road?

How does one not know he died instantly from his own lose of control?

How does another citizen rear-end and kill two motorcycle riders and receive nothing, but yet here one drunk driver hits another supposedly drunk driver after he lost control and fell onto a busy, heavily traveled highway?

Anonymous said...

This is a very sad story that I started thinking about again recently. I, like some others, personally know (knew?) Mallory. She was a very sweet girl; although, she did like to drink and smoke pot, so that explains her massive BAC. I think 18 years is far overboard especially when most SC murders (like gang shooting and stuff) get less time. You people think the family of the deceased wants retribution and wants to ruin Mallory's life? You're wrong. The victim's own brother said he was appalled by the massive sentence. All in all, it's a terrible tragedy that resulted in three lives being ruined, and I think the judge was too harsh.
And the public attorney given to her got her to plead guilty saying she would get off easy. He failed his job IMO and so did the judge. This is not justice.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much attention this story would get, if any, had Mallory been a black or Spanish speaking male? Food for thought from a white anti-racist activist...

Anonymous said...

So I read the boys on the motorcycles were drunk and partying too? What was there alcohol levels in their blood? If they were partying why not blame themon there own accidents?

Anonymous said...

She did not have a public defender so it's even more surprising that she plead guilty. Her step-father did not want to keep paying the legal fees and her mother is too stupid to know what to do.

Anonymous said...

If I understand the basis for her 18 year sentence, is it true that if your drunk driving in SC and involved in an accident, there is no consideration for whether you caused it, or if it was your fault? You are sentenced the same either way? I don't know the facts of the Hood case but if the motorcyclist lunged into oncoming traffic, how is one supposed to avoid it, whether they are drunk or not?

Chris said...

For all those commenting on this page. I decided to look this up after a few years and saw all these comments. I was one of the riders, so let me set a few facts here. One there was no witness that saw us at a bar drinking, we were just riding, people just assume we were drinking cuz Justin fell off his bike. Mind you Justin was a fairly new rider. We were on our way home to drop off our bikes so we could drink, get your facts straight. Also as for the 18 years, well she ran Justin over, than tried to run from the scene and ran over Josh in the process. She than fled the scene leaving one dead and another in critical condition.

Anonymous said...

When a motorcyclist falls off his bike into oncoming traffic and gets ran over, it is a tragedy. The girl made a mistake by trying to drive away after hitting the foreign object that flew in front of her car. But she did not cause the accident. It was just a horrible circumstance. She was drunk, she was wrong, she admitted as much, and plead guilty. 18 years is way way way too much for a person who had never been charged with another crime, ever. And that's the point of this whole post. By the way, whenever you feel like being a cool guy and getting on a motorcycle at night, know that you are putting your life in extreme unnecessary danger. A light fender bender will kill you. No matter how cool and macho you feel on that bike, you are in a very very very vulnerable situation. "Hey, the law protects us!" Posthumously perhaps. If we want to prevent unnecessary deaths on our roads, in addition to DUI laws, we should outlaw motorcycles. Imagine all the lives that would be saved. I'm serious.

Stan said...

A tragedy for sure. I am curious how people know that murderers in this state get less time in prison than did Mallory. It isn't true, by the way. The state Criminal Code mandates murder punishable by a minimum prison term of 30 years, but a person convicted of murder can receive a sentence of up to life in prison or death.

Courts attempt to achieve justice for victims, which may not seem like justice to the defendant and his/her family. But the prosecution has the responsibility of speaking for the victim. The judge didn't pull the 18 year sentence out of his butt. There are guidelines to follow. The judge is responsible for making sure any sentence is fairly applied, using experience and good 'judge-ment'.

I wasn't at trial and don't know enough to say whether her sentence is excessive. I will say that her voluntary intoxication to a level three times the legal limit, and attempted escape from the accident scene had to weigh against her when assessing her punishment. If she has support from family and friends while incarcerated then she has a good chance of emerging with a positive attitude and rebuilding her life.

Anonymous said...

is this chick still locked up? went to school with her. definitely a party girl and cant say i'm too surprised.

Unknown said...
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