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Driver gets 30 days in jail for drunk driving crash that killed south Charlotte man

The Mecklenburg County jail uptown.
Lisa Worf
The Mecklenburg County jail uptown.

A Mecklenburg judge Thursday accepted a plea agreement with the driver in a March 2023 drunk-driving crash that killed a 30-year-old man in south Charlotte.

The victim’s mother, Britta Marshall, is upset that the driver will spend only 30 days in jail. She left the courtroom in tears.

Roy James Jackson was originally charged with felony death by motor vehicle for a crash that killed Darren Lee Marshall Jr. on Pineville-Matthews Road in south Charlotte. Under state guidelines, that carries a recommended sentence of around three years.

But the Mecklenburg district attorney’s office agreed to charge Jackson with involuntary manslaughter. He will spend 30 days in the Mecklenburg jail and be on probation for two years.

Prosecutor Monica Noble told Superior Court Judge David Strickland that it was possible that a jury would have acquitted Jackson if the case had gone to trial. State law also allows for people convicted of felony death by motor vehicle to serve no prison time if they had no past convictions for things like DWI.

Jackson’s blood alcohol level was .10 roughly three hours after the accident. That’s above the legal limit of .08.

Front and back cameras in Jackson’s Jeep showed that he didn’t get out of the car after the accident to see if Marshall was OK.

But Noble also said that those same cameras showed that his driving was OK before the crash.

“A jury could have an issue with proximate cause,” Noble said. “It’s possible that he could have been sentenced to probation.”

She said under this plea, he was guaranteed to serve some time.

Marshall unsuccessfully asked Strickland for a tougher sentence during the hearing.

After the hearing, she spoke outside the courthouse and recalled her son's broken body.

“I saw his broken nose. I saw his broken neck,” she said. “And I begged the court for justice. And this is their atrocity. This is what they gave him.”

Jackson did not address Marshall or the judge during the hearing. His attorney, George Laughrun, spoke for him.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.