A Bacon County jury convicted Daniel Byrd today of vehicular homicide in the 1st degree and DUI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Ian Sansot with Chief Judge Dwayne Gillis presiding over the proceedings.
The evidence presented at trial showed that on the night of August 4, 2015, Byrd, who was driving a 2011 Dodge Ram truck on Highway 32 in Bacon County, “blacked out” and crossed the center line into oncoming traffic. His truck then drove over the 2005 Toyota Camry that was being driven by 24 year old Jamie Holden. The weight of the truck crushed Ms. Holden, killing her nearly instantly. As the truck drove on top of the Camry, the hood and roof were peeled from the sedan and thrown away from both vehicles. Photographs of the remains of the Camry showed what appeared to be tire tracks on the driver’s side seats. Byrd’s truck, after destroying Ms. Holden’s car, rolled and landed a hundred feet away. Byrd was taken to the hospital where he consented to a draw of his blood. After the sample was sent the GBI Crime Lab, it was determined that Byrd was positive for amphetamine and methamphetamine.
After a two day trial, the jury deliberated for approximately forty-five minutes, finding Byrd guilty of vehicular homicide in the 1st degree; rejecting arguments from the defense to convict of the lesser vehicular homicide in the 2nd degree or to acquit. At sentencing, the State introduced evidence of Byrd’s prior criminal record: four felony convictions of which three related to methamphetamine possession or manufacture. Ms. Holden’s family members testified about the loss of their beloved daughter and sister. Jamie Holden was engaged and her wedding was to take place just three months later. Judge Gillis sentenced Byrd to serve 15 years in prison, the maximum under the law. Due to his record, that 15 years will be served without the possibility of parole.
“There is nothing we can do that will ever make the Holden family whole,” said District Attorney George Barnhill. “But we hope that they are able to move forward in spite of this tragedy and have some measure of closure. We’re so thankful to the work of Trooper Dustin Stone, the GSP SCRT Team, the Bacon County Sheriff’s Office, and all other officers and witnesses who were instrumental in bringing this case to justice. We also hope that this verdict and sentence send a message to all who make the choice to drive while under the influence. You may not care about the risk to yourself but the price, so often, is paid by others.”
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