Judge orders prison for drug-addled driver who hit, killed man by East Lawrence Rec Center
Grieving brothers of a man killed by a drunken and drug-addled driver said they understand people make mistakes, especially when they’re young.
“But a life was taken here,” said Toby Douglass, one brother of victim Stephen Douglass, 49, of Eudora. “I just want to see justice.”
Toby Douglass, of Gardner, and Nathan Douglass, of Waco, Texas, spoke Friday in Douglas County District Court at the sentencing of Jordan L. White, 25, of Lawrence.
Judge Sally Pokorny sentenced White to serve 34 months, or nearly three years, in prison for convictions of involuntary manslaughter and DUI. Following the judge’s ruling, White, who had been out of custody, hugged family members before a deputy handcuffed him.
The Douglasses described the sadness of losing their brother too soon and said they wanted accountability for White.
“The main thing is that he understands that he took a life,” Nathan Douglass said. “I hope he can get his life straight after this. Everybody makes bad choices, it’s just that we’ve got to be accountable for what we do and try to make better choices.”
About 10:40 p.m. April 17, 2017, White barreled into the 1200 block of East 15th Street — a 30 mph zone — at more than 75 mph, prosecutor Mark Simpson said at White’s plea hearing in March.
There was no evidence he tried to brake before hitting Stephen Douglass’ pickup as it pulled out of the East Lawrence Recreation Center, Simpson said. Tests showed that White had drugs in his system including methamphetamine, methadone and ketamine, and his blood alcohol level three hours after the crash was .12 percent. The legal limit for drivers is .08 percent.
White’s appointed attorney, Nicholas David, said White had been a stay-at-home dad, didn’t have the money for court costs and asked the judge to waive them, which she did. David said the tragic accident was the result of “very poor choices” by White, for which he was remorseful.
White himself spoke only briefly.
“I’d just like to apologize and say that I take full responsibility,” White said.
Douglass grew up in Lawrence and Eudora and did construction and remodeling work in the area, according to relatives. He had been at the rec center using the public computer to talk with friends on Facebook, and was posting online up until shortly before the crash.