Judge emotional while sending man to jail


Friday was a dramatic day in court as a drunk driver learned his fate for a crash that killed his friend. Nearly everyone in the courtroom was emotional and crying, the defendant, the victim’s family and the judge.

Before sentencing, Erie County Judge Kenneth Case said this case kept him up for weeks because an outstanding young man made a bad decision. Wallace Hedgepeth, 20, admitted that he was drunk while driving more than 100 miles per hour on Route 33 last June.

Hedgepath lost control of his vehicle, struck a curb on the Elm Street ramp, went airborne then crashed into a guardrail and a tree.

His passenger, Jireh Williams, 21, was thrown from the car and killed. In court, Williams mother told Hedgepeth she forgives him.

The victim’s mother Brontie Williams said, “seven months and one day ago I lost my son and I still look for him today. I miss him dearly. What I am here for is, I don’t want to see another mother go through this.”

Hedgepeth spoke in court, “I can’t even imagine the amount of pain that I bestowed upon these lovely people. My decision to drink and drive that night was irresponsible and very reckless.”

The judge said what made this case so difficult is the fact that Hedgepeth had accomplished a lot, got into an apprentice program and recently volunteered to speak to kids about the dangers of drinking and driving.

Hedgepeth will receive and indeterminate sentence of one to three years behind bars.

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