The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

November 25, 2013

Drunken driver in double fatality accident granted probation

JOPLIN, Mo. — A judge granted Jeremy Johnson probation Monday on his convictions for involuntary manslaughter in the 2011 motor vehicle crash that claimed the lives of two Missouri Southern State University football players.

Circuit Judge Gayle Crane had assessed Johnson, 21, of Harrison, Ark., 120 days of shock time in the  state prison system at a hearing Aug. 12 in Jasper County Circuit Court. Johnson was returned to the court for resentencing Monday after the Missouri Department of Corrections determined that he was ineligible for the state's shock incarceration program.

Johnson pleaded guilty June 24 to two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of Diondre Johnson and Michael McCrimmons, both 19 and from Springfield, in connection with an accident Dec. 2, 2011, on Interstate 44 near Sarcoxie. But involuntary manslaughter is not a conviction for which shock incarceration is an option.

Crane had assessed Johnson concurrent, seven-year terms in the shock-incarceration program at the sentencing hearing in August, although the Jasper County prosecutor's office had sought consecutive sentences.

In resentencing Johnson on Monday, the judge ordered that the underlying terms be consecutive but suspended execution of the sentences and placed him on supervised probation for five years. She also left in place a requirement that he complete 200 hours of community service.

Johnson was the driver of an SUV in which Diondre Johnson, McCrimmons and Patrick Holt, of Benton, Ark., were passengers. The young men had been at a Springfield nightclub and were returning to Joplin about 2:30 a.m. when the accident happened.

The westbound SUV ran off the road, struck some median cables and overturned, coming to rest in the eastbound passing lane of the interstate. Diondre Johnson was thrown from the vehicle. McCrimmons and Holt were still in the vehicle when it was struck by an eastbound semi-truck. Jeremy Johnson, who had climbed out of the wreckage, was struck by an eastbound car.

Jeremy Johnson later tested at a blood-alcohol level of 0.11 percent, according to a probable-cause affidavit filed with the court. The legal limit for Missouri drivers is 0.08 percent.

Assistant Prosecutor Kimberly Fisher noted at the sentencing hearing in August that Johnson seemed truly remorseful about what he had done. She had recommended that he receive consecutive terms and that the judge assess at a minimum the 120 days of shock time.

The accident has spawned four separate lawsuits filed by the families of the two deceased football players.

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