Thursday, October 2nd, 2008
By Margie Wuebker
Celina teen convicted in fatal ATV accident to spend 90 days in jail
Adam Fennig of Celina stood in Mercer County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday morning fighting to keep his emotions in check as he apologized to the family of Megan Ann Jeffries prior to sentencing on misdemeanor charges of vehicular homicide and operating a vehicle under the influence.
The charges stem from an April 27 four-wheeler accident that claimed the life of 17-year-old Jeffries, a Celina High School student and Fennig's passenger.
"Words cannot even portray how sorry I am for the hurt and suffering I have put you through," he said in a voice choked with emotion. "Not a second goes by that I don't think about the accident and wish things would have went differently."
Accepting full responsibility for the nightmare he created, 18-year-old Fennig looked toward grieving members of Jeffries' family before adding, "I am willing and prepared to pay for the damage I have done ... and I pray that all of your wounds will be healed."
Judge Jeffrey Ingraham ordered Fennig to serve 90 days in the Mercer County Jail on the vehicular homicide charge and 30 days on the OVI charge, with the time to be served concurrently. Ingraham imposed $600 in fines and suspended the defendant's operator's license for three years on the more serious first-degree misdemeanor and 90 days on the lesser charge, with the suspensions to run concurrently.
In addition to abiding by two years of probation, Fennig must pay restitution totaling nearly $13,770 to cover the victim's hospital, funeral and monument costs.
"I do not believe sentencing laws are adequate in cases like this," Ingraham said. "My focus is on protecting society."
Then in reference to the three-month jail sentence, he told the defendant "I hope you take this opportunity to readjust your thinking."
Amanda Jeffries described her younger sister as her idol - a person who could brighten everyone's day with a smile. "Now she's a beautiful young angel ... I guess one could say I am a lucky person to have a little sister that serves a higher power."
Pausing to regain composure, she added, "Everyone does something wrong in their life. It's human nature. The only thing I want is to see Megan again ... Nothing, no sentence will ever fulfill my needs. But I know there must be punishment for what he has done, and I know that what happens today doesn't really matter. Because there is truly only one judge ... he's the one who carries out the true justice."
Donna Jeffries shared with the court how she dreamed of going shopping with her daughter for a senior prom gown and one day, a wedding dress.
"I never in my worst nightmare imagined I would be picking out an outfit for her funeral or helping the funeral director put on her makeup so she could look her best for her own viewing," the mother said amid tears. "I would like Adam to be held accountable for his actions. He knowingly broke many laws and being under the influence of alcohol the day he decided to take my Megan, my baby girl, for a joy ride she would never come back from."
Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Matt Fox laid out the undisputed facts in the case - Fennig drove his four-wheeler illegally on the road, he took responsibility for Jeffries' life and safety, he drove into the rear of another four wheeler and he drove with a blood-alcohol content of 0.027 after reportedly consuming 19 beers the night before.
With the criminal case now closed, Fennig and his parents, Gary and Angie, now face a civil suit filed Wednesday by the legal firm of Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz on behalf of Donna and Bill Jeffries.
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