Goshen man involved in car accident sentenced

Cornelius Watkins was sentenced Thursday in Elkhart County Circuit Court.
Posted on Dec. 13, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Dec. 13, 2012 at 6:24 p.m.

GOSHEN — Cornelius Watkins, a man who was the driver in an accident that killed one and left another severely injured, was sentenced in Elkhart County Circuit Court Thursday morning.

Watkins, 21, of Goshen, was sentenced to two years on home detention and four years on reporting probation. His driver’s license was also suspended for four years.

Watkins was driving on U.S. 33 the when he fell asleep and lost control of the vehicle, hitting a telephone pole at the intersection of U.S. 33 and Concord Mall Drive. Aaron Jett was killed and Darnell Cassell sustained severe injuries from the accident.

“He regrets it. If he could turn time back, he wouldn’t have driven that night,” said Sharon Bilbrew, Watkins’s attorney.

Jett and Darnell were close friends to Watkins, and at his sentencing hearing, Cassell was present in the courtroom to show support for Watkins, Bilbrew explained.

When asked by the judge if he had anything he would like to say to the court, Watkins started by apologizing to Jett and Cassell’s family.

“I never intended for this to happen ...” but he stopped short, sobbing. A teary-eyed Bilbrew told Judge Terry Shewmaker the case heavily affected Watkins on a personal and emotional level.

Watkins was initially charged with homicide murder, but the charge was dismissed and he pleaded guilty to two counts of causing serious bodily injury while operating a vehicle with a controlled substance.

After the accident, a blood test showed Watkins had THC, the active compound in marijuana, in his blood and a blood-alcohol level of 0.03 percent, according to the probable cause affidavit.

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