Nicole Marie Wilson, age 30, a former Lexington County special education teacher, has pled guilty to Felony DUI resulting in Death. There were no plea negotiations in the case. Wilson was facing a sentencing range of 1 to 25 years as a result of the guilty plea. Chief Administrative Judge Eugene C. Griffith, Jr. sentenced Wilson to prison for seven (7) years. Felony DUI with Death is classified as a violent crime and a “no parole” offense.
The victim, Roger Wayne Johnson, age 75, had picked up his grandchild from work at Applebee’s in the Harbison area on the night of January 5, 2017. The victim’s vehicle exited off of I-20 west bound at the 378 exit and stopped at the red light.
Wilson was driving a 2011 Hyundai Sonata on Highway 378 when she ran through the red light, striking Johnson’s vehicle. Surveillance video from the Town of Lexington fountain shows that the traffic light on 378 was red for approximately 5 seconds prior to the collision at 11:11 pm. Review of the video indicates that Wilson never applied brakes while running through the red light.
The victim and his grandchild had to be mechanically extricated from their Jeep Compass by Fire Department personnel. Johnson was transported to Lexington Medical Center ER where he was pronounced dead a short time later.
A witness at the scene reported that she was able to smell alcohol coming from Wilson’s breath. When Lexington Police Department officers arrived on scene, Officer Trey Kerwin also detected a strong odor of alcoholic beverage emanating from Wilson which became more apparent as she spoke.
The investigation conducted by the Lexington Police Department revealed that Wilson had been at D’s Wings in Cayce at approximately 6:30 pm where she ordered two pints of beer. Wilson then participated in a kickball tournament in West Columbia. A witness reported that Wilson consumed two to three beers during the first kickball game. During the second game, a witness stated that Wilson consumed two more beers. Following the tournament, Wilson returned to D’s Wings at approximately 10:15 pm and consumed an additional pint of beer.
A search warrant was obtained by investigators for a blood sample from Wilson following the collision. The blood draw was taken at approximately 2:30 am and submitted to the S.C. Law Enforcement Division (SLED) for forensic testing. SLED determined that Wilson’s blood alcohol level was .20, more than twice the legal limit of .08.
Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Robby McNair prosecuted the case. Following sentencing, McNair stated, “This is a tragic case. Wilson made a very poor decision to drink and drive and it cost Roger Johnson his life.”
Wilson will be transferred to the S.C. Department of Corrections to begin immediate service of her sentence.