DWI Crash Fallout
News 13 has uncovered another criminal case where backlogs at the state crime lab are delaying potential prosecutions in a criminal case.
Investigators say 53-year-old Donald Willis is now facing his fifth drunk driving arrest. But this latest case, the fifth, where he's accused of crossing the center line crashing into pregnant Emily Dalton on Seagle Road in Marion is the most serious. "It is my understanding she had an abruption," said District Attorney Brad Greenway of McDowell County. "She was eight months pregnant at the time and lost the baby."
Emily was taken to McDowell County Hospital where police learned the news. "They did not know until sometime later that she was pregnant," said Greenway. "It wasn't a horrendous crash, but it obviously was enough to do some serious serious bodily injury."
Greenway said because Willis had minor injuries from the wreck, he too was taken to the hospital. Willis didn't do a breathalyzer also called an intoximeter. "Because he was taken to the hospital for his own injuries," said Greenway. "They were not able to do the intoximeter test. They had to draw blood. The test has been sent to the state crime lab in Raleigh where cases remain heavily backlogged. If a suspect in a DWI isn't hurt police will do a breath test at the scene. "If you have the intoximeter and it's more than .08 you lose your license immediately for 30 days," said Greenway. "Since they drew the blood they have to wait for the lab reports to come back and if it's more than .08 then they pick him up at that point." But, it could be a year, before those results are back. "The lab has a terrible backlog," said Greenway. "We're working on that problem all across the state at this time. But for now there is no resolution. "He can legally drive at this point," said Greenway.
Last month News 13 profiled a drunk driving hit and run case in Brevard where District Attorney Greg Newman has voiced his frustration over delays in getting blood tests back from the crime lab. Due to the delay, Newman says, he is waiting on additional charges. The case appears to be similar to this latest blood test delay for Wilson's case in Marion.
District Attorney Greenway says the investigation continues and there could be additional charges related to the unborn infant's death but he would not comment further.
By Kimberly King
Follow Kim on Twitter @KimKingReports