Drunk driver sen­tenced for death of Nan­je­moy fire­fighter

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­news.com

The drunk driver re­spon­si­ble for the death of beloved Nan­je­moy vol­un­teer fire­fighter Au­tumn Marie Jenk­ins, 20, was sen­tenced in Charles County Cir­cuit Court on Tues­day af­ter plead­ing guilty to neg­li­gent ve­hic­u­lar man­slaugh­ter in April.

Dar­ren Loyce Wind­sor, 24, of In­dian Head was sen­tenced to 10 years im­pris­on­ment, with all but three sus­pended by Ad­min­is­tra­tive Judge Amy Bra­gu­nier, who lis­tened to im­pact state­ments from fam­ily mem­bers of both sides be­fore hand­ing down her sen­tence.

Three hours af­ter swerv­ing over the cen­ter line and col­lid­ing head– on with Jenk­ins in April 2015, the man reg­is­tered a .14 blood al­co­hol level at a shock trauma unit, ac­cord­ing to court pro­ceed­ings.

“This case is noth­ing less than a tragedy,” Bra­gu­nier said, not­ing the great loss to the Jenk­ins fam­ily and Wind­sor’s apol­ogy to them.

On April 28, 2015, Jenk­ins was

driv­ing a Kia Soul south on Route 425 near Tim’s Place in the late evening when Wind­sor, driv­ing his Chevro­let Sil­ver­ado pickup truck, crossed the cen­ter line and crashed into Jenk­ins’ car. Her fel­low vol­un­teers from the Nan­je­moy fire depart­ment were the pri­mary re­spon­ders to the ac­ci­dent, and strug­gled for sev­eral hours to ex­tri­cate her man­gled body from the wreck­age, ac­cord­ing to court pro­ceed­ings. She was pro­nounced dead on the scene.

“I re­mem­ber the night like it was yes­ter­day,” said her fa­ther, Tom Jenk­ins. “I re­mem­ber kiss­ing my daugh­ter and say­ing good­bye.”

Jenk­ins, who joined the Nan­je­moy Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment when she was 16, was his only child.

Charles County State’s At­tor­ney An­thony Cov­ing­ton (D) asked for Bra­gu­nier to sen­tence Wind­sor above the guide­lines to send a mes­sage to other po­ten­tial drunk driv­ers. He ar­gued that “drugs and al­co­hol do not com­pel peo­ple to get be­hind the wheel and ul­ti­mately kill some­one.” Rather, de­cid­ing to drink and drive is a “crim­i­nal mind­set,” he said, and “sooner or later … some­body is go­ing to die.”

Cov­ing­ton said he firmly be­lieves that a strict sen­tence could help de­ter fu­ture drunk driv­ing in­ci­dents, and asked that a “sig­nif­i­cant, thought-pro­vok­ing sen­tence” be im­posed.

De­fense at­tor­ney Wil­liam Re­na­han asked for a le­nient sen­tence within the guide­lines, cit­ing that Wind­sor had a clean crim­i­nal his­tory, with just a marijuana pos­ses­sion charge, and was a fa­ther to a young son.

In a court­room filled with griev­ing fam­ily and friends of Jenk­ins, Wind­sor turned around to face them and apol­o­gized.

“I can’t imag­ine what you went through bury­ing your daugh­ter,” he said. “And I’m sorry from the bot­tom of my heart.”

Wind­sor’s mother told the court that her son went back to the crash site and left flow­ers on the an­niver­sary of Jenkin’s death.

Ul­ti­mately, Bra­gu­nier sen­tenced Wind­sor to three years of ac­tive in­car­cer­a­tion with seven years sus­pended and five years of su­per­vised pro­ba­tion upon re­lease, and al­lowed him to be­gin his prison term next week. “You will be out,” she said to him, “and you will have a life to carry on.”

Af­ter the hear­ing, mem­bers of the Nan­je­moy vol­un­teer fire depart­ment left the court­house park­ing lot aboard Com­pany En­gine 41, ded­i­cated in Jenk­ins’ mem­ory.

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