It took a jury Thursday only 45 minutes to find 50-year-old Fayette Thompson not guilty of negligence in a 1996 fatal accident in Wood County. It's a verdict which left some people relieved and others disappointed.
"The jury has determined this and we will abide by the jury verdict," said Wood County Circuit Judge Robert Waters. "This is an emotional case for everyone involved and all the families involved."
"We had a lot of witnesses who had either passed away or were not found due to address changes," explained Assistant Prosecutor Sean Francisco of the seven-year-old case, "so a lot of evidence had been lost due to the time passed."
The case began in December 1996. Thompson, Shelly Peaks and Sonquetta Henderson were returning from a brief trip to Charlotte, North Carolina. They were near the Wood-Jackson County line, when the car went out of control, overturned and crashed. Henderson, who was nine months pregnant, was killed. Thompson and Peaks were seriously injured.
"We only wanted an apology we never received," said Henderson's sister, Tonya Holliday." (Thompson) was responsible for the death of my sister, and we never even received a remorseful look."
"If I wouldn't have had my best friend come with me, she would be here today," said Shelly Peaks, a passenger in the vehicle who was seriously injured, and who testified in the trial. "But Fay knew the speed limit; she was the one who was driving fast."
Thompson and her attorney wouldn't comment, but peaks believes the jury's verdict is not the final judgment. Thompson spent four months in the North Central Regional Jail, following her arrest last September. She was ordered released by judge waters.