The Commercial Appeal
Prison ordered in DUI death
Sarcasm halts probation attempt
At an emotional hearing in April, the family of an elderly man killed by a young drunken driver said they wanted the defendant to have a second chance.
So as an alternative to servi ng an eightyear sentence in prison, Jordan Stonebrook was allowed to enter the religion-based Teen Challenge Residential Treatment program for young men over 18 with drug, alcohol, anger or other issues.
The program lasts for about a year. Stonebrook lasted just three weeks.
When two program partici-
pants were discussing what Jesus might think of marijuana, they asked Stonebrook his thoughts.
“I gave a sarcastic answer and said I would smoke a joint with Him and ask Him,” Stonebrook, 22, of Collierville said in a violation- of-probation hearing Friday in Criminal Court. “It wasn’t meant to be offensive. I wish I could take it back, but I can’t.”
Stonebrook had a chance to stay in the program by repeating his errant comment and apologizing to the other 30 participants at a mealtime gathering. Things only got worse.
“You’re supposed to show humility, but everyone started laughing, including myself,” he told Judge Lee Coffee, who was not laughing. “I couldn’t hold it in when everyone else was laughing.”
It was not how the judge, the prosecutor, the defense lawyer and especially the family of victim Billy Penn wanted things to turn out.
Penn, 77, a retired pharmacist, was killed on Sept. 26 last year when Stonebrook — driving on the wrong side of the road and full of rum — hit his car head-on at Cordova Road just west of Germantown Road.
Stonebrook, whose blood alcohol was .21, or more than twice the statutory limit, pleaded guilty in April to vehicular homicide involving intoxication and caught a break with the Teen Challenge option.
On Friday Stonebrook, a one-time Mississippi State University student, said he would like to try the Teen Challenge in Nashville, that it might be a better fit.
His lawyer, Mark McDaniel, was cautiously hopeful, while state prosecutor Billy Bond opposed the idea, as did the judge.
Coffee felt prison would be a better fit.
“So what do I do when you come back in two months and tell me you don’t like the Teen Challenge in Nashville and you want to try the one in Las Vegas or in New York?” Coffee told Stonebrook. “You don’t get to serve probation on your terms.
“You were given a blessing by the Penn family. There were a lot of tears in the courtroom that day. I put you on probation (in Teen Challenge) only because the Penn family wanted that. I don’t know if I would have had that in me if I lost a loved one like this.”