Pinellas County, Florida - A Pinellas County judge sentenced 22-year-old Demetrius Jordan to forty-four years in jail on four counts of DUI manslaughter. Jordan's attorney asked the judge for leniency, saying it was an isolated incident, an accident at the hand of a young man with no criminal record. In the end, the judge could not overlook the seriousness of the crime or the impact it has had on the McConnell family.
"Everyday I pray for the strength to get through my day without my children," says Lisa Stokes, the mother of Elroy and Nathan McConnell.
Lisa told the judge her life has not been the same since that night, August 2010. Stokes said, "They were great men, loved their family, had good careers and loved their children ... they were my children and my friends"
It's a pain of loss and grief, echoed throughout the McConnell family. "Everyday pain, I wish they were here but someone decided to party, party hard and be extremely reckless," said Cheryl McConnell, Roy Sr.'s sister.
Traffic investigators said Jordan was speeding up to 92 miles per hour as he approached the intersection of 22 Avenue North and Dr. Martin Luther King Street in St. Petersburg. The accident report indicated he had a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit from a cocktail of gin and Four LoKo - a caffeine and alcohol mix (the company has since reformulated the drink). Jordan had also been smoking marijuana.
The McConnell men were on vacation, celebrating the youngest McConnell's 19th birthday. The men were returning from a guy's night out to the movies when the accident happened. Jordan pleaded guilty to the charges in June, just before his trial was scheduled to begin.
"Life in prison is not enough ... he will receive justice when he meets his maker," said Stokes.
Ana McConnell speaks of the father her 2 year old son is growing up without.
"He missed milestones. He did not get to see him crawl or walk or talk. He won't see his first day of school, when he graduates, starts dating, gets married or see his grand children," said Ana.
She spoke of the grandfather and uncle her son will never know. Ana said, "The only way to visit them is to go to the cemetery."
Jordan's mother said this was an accident, a young man's poor decision one night.
"I want you to give him some mercy," said Alice Jordan, Demetrius' mother. "It was a mistake, it was a mistake," said Alice. She asked the McConnell family for forgiveness and said they are a lot alike, a large close family.
The final plea came from Demetrius Jordan himself. "I am terribly sorry," said Demetrius. "It hurts my heart, I know I took four lives, I take full responsibility for what I've done. I don't remember what happened, I am lost." Demetrius told the judge that he will have to come to face his Lord for what he has done.
Jordan's family said they are at peace with the judge's decision.
The McConnells hope others will learn a lesson from their loss and that is not to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.