2017-02-15 / Front Page

Debose gets eight years for vehicular homicide

By Diana Royal

April Nicole Dubose April Nicole Dubose Stinky dirt.

That’s how Robby Evans said his 3-year-old daughter described the wreck that killed her mother in 2014.

Evans stood before a full courtroom in Superior Court last Friday, recalling the day he met Leah Brumfield. Through tears, he talked about the day-to-day struggles he has with their two daughters. “What do I know about hair bows? About prom dresses?” he said. “I’m not even good at making biscuits.”

But Leah was, he said, describing her as his angel, a woman who fiercely loved her children and had a knack for making everyone feel special.

Many of those people drove to Augusta Friday morning, filling nearly one whole side of the courtroom as they awaited sentencing for the woman charged in Brumfield’s death.

April Nicole Dubose, 32, pleaded guilty to all 10 charges she faced: vehicular homicide in the first degree, three counts of serious injury by vehicle, possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana, three counts of endangering a child while driving under the influence and failure to stop at a stop sign.

Judge Sheryl B. Jolly said those charges could result in jail time exceeding 66 years.

Dubose, red-faced and clearly shaken, clutched the piece of paper as she read to Brumfield’s family.

“I deeply regret the pain I have inflicted … I pray for you every day,” she said as she begged the family and the court for mercy.

Nearly three years ago, on Feb. 28, 2014, both women were taking their children to school when Dubose ran a stop sign and plowed into the driver’s side of Brumfield’s Honda Civic at the intersection of Highway 56 and Rosier Road. Brumfield, 35, died from the injuries sustained in the crash, and her two daughters, 3 and 13 at the time, suffered severe injuries.

Dubose’s own three children suffered injuries as well. As Judge Jolly looked at the photo of Dubose’s 9-year-old daughter she stated, “Your daughter could have been decapitated.”

Dubose has held to her denial that she consumed drugs in the hours leading up to the crash, yet Assistant District Attorney Thomas Watkins said toxicology reports revealed otherwise. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, was in Dubose’s system, and the report indicated she had ingested marijuana four to five hours prior to the time the blood sample was taken. Watkins said the blood sample was taken four hours after the crash. The report also revealed traces of methamphetamine as well as amphetamine, an active ingredient in Dubose’s Adipex diet pills. Watkins said these pills are oftentimes taken by methamphetamine users after the meth has saturated their brains. It helps to increase the high, he said.

Watkins also noted that a pack of Cigarillos containing a marijuana cigarette was found at the scene as well as a black makeup compact with meth inside.

Dubose’s attorney, PJ Campanaro, said her client’s behavior did not indicate a long-term drug history, and that since the crash, she has passed every drug test, from urine screenings to hair follicle samples. “I have never represented anyone so remorseful,” Campanaro said, adding that Dubose was not driving her own vehicle and that she only took the children to school that morning because the bus did not show up. The family said they were new to the area and that Dubose had never driven on that road before.

Dubose’s mother later revealed the vehicle was hers and that she “prayed a thousand times” she could have driven them that morning.

Nancy Minyard, who serves as the guardian ad Litem for Dubose’s three children, went on record to say that Dubose had been a victim of domestic abuse, and that she hoped the court would not allow their father custody. Minyard said she was in a very difficult position, as she personally knew the victim and the victim’s family, and that she was there for the children’s sake. “I probably wouldn’t have taken the case if I had known at the time who the victim was,” Minyard said.

Maureen Floyd, attorney for the children’s father, said her client had been grossly misrepresented and that Dubose and her family were not truthful people. The custody battle is ongoing.

After hearing from several family members and friends from both sides, Judge Jolly addressed Dubose. “This is indeed a tragedy for all families involved,” she said. “The victim’s children are never going to have their mother again. What’s worse is you took the lives of your own three children into your hands … what concerns the court is you had drugs in the car, which tells me you had used and had not stopped using because it was still there.” Judge Jolly went on to say that all five children are suffering as a result of a “really dumb, stupid, awful decision.”

She sentenced Dubose to 15 years each for the homicide by vehicle and serious injury counts, eight of which are to be served in confinement with seven years on probation. She got three years for meth possession and 12 months each for the remaining charges. Since the sentences are to run concurrent, Dubose will serve a maximum of eight years, and she will be eligible for parole. She reported Monday morning at 9 a.m.

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