Hit and Run Suspect Faces New Charge of Manslaughter

Published: Jan. 4, 2008 at 1:43 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 15, 2008 at 2:23 AM CST
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When Adam Klingensmith was killed last Friday night in an apparent hit and run, he left behind lots of family and friends with good things to say about him. "He was just a good kid," said a friend. In fact, that's what he was doing when he was killed, being a good kid and helping someone on the side of the road. Police say that's when an intoxicated Jimmy Ray White struck him with his car. "I don't ever want him to get out of jail," said a crying stepdad, Carl Ferguson.  It's important to Ferguson, that the man accused of Adam's death be charged properly. "I don't think he should ever see the streets again, there's a lot of people in our families that are going to be hurting for the rest of their lives," said Ferguson. Initially, police charged White with vehicular homicide, but the statute requires proof that alcohol was involved in Friday's incident. "We weren't able to locate the suspect's vehicle til Saturday morning," said accident investigator, Tom Oster. So police feel obliged to go after the manslaughter charge, which carries a much harsher sentence, they say white hit adam right here at Corbitt and Linwood. "He drove 16 blocks with that kid in the windshield," said friend, Justin Spicer. Adams body was found here at Claiborne and Dowdell, just a few hundred feet from the emergency room doors at LSU Hospital. Police don't need the element of alcohol to go after manslaughter. "And it's not something we just decided on our own at the police department, we worked hand in hand with the district attorney's office who will be prosecuting this case," says Oster. But this man, a friend of Adam's says he spent the night in the same jail cell with White. "I told him I knew the kid, he thought it was a girl, said he was too drunk, and he didn't even know who he hit," says Spicer. If police had stuck with the vehicular homicide charge, white would face ten years maximum, but a manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years, a charge police and the D.A. appear to be sticking with.

Story by Fred Childers