Drunk Driver Gets One Year For Vehicular Manslaughter
A family in mourning got another shock minutes before coming out of the Caddo Parish Courthouse. Judge Leon Emmanuel sentenced William Gourdine, Junior to one year hard labor for killing 17 year-old Amanda Laurenson on Blom Road in 2004. Laurenson's mother Denise, held Amanda's picture in hand after the sentencing. Laurenson says, "judges need to change their ways of giving sentences of vehicular homicide. It's Louisiana law, but it's horrible that someone could take a life because of alcohol and only get one year. It's not justice at all". Caddo Assistant District Attorney Eddie Brossette says, "we just think the experience of one year in hard labor does not appreciate the seriousness of this crime".
Family and friends shed tears near the courthouse steps over the decision. Gourdine's attorney Ray Kethley says, "Judge Leon Emmanuel commented initially that he ruled the cause of this accident was her behavior, coming off the stop sign talking on her cell phone. That certainly was a factor in this". And about the fact that Gourdine's blood alcohol level was point-one-six, Brossette comments, "the legal limit is .08, that's twice the legal alcohol level".
Brosette and Laurenson believe a lot of people were in danger that day. Laurenson says, "if you have a problem with drinking and driving, don't let it be a nightmare for someone else. This is a true nightmare". Brossette says the slap on the wrist could become a light tap. Gourdine could spend less than a year in jail if he gets credit for time already served. Gourdine's attorney Ray Kethley plans to appeal the sentence. Caddo Assistant D.A. Eddie Brossette says he will do all he can to make sure the sentence sticks.