A South Carolina woman accused of driving drunk on Interstate 77 and killing four people, including her own daughter, in a wrong-way crash will remain in jail without bail, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Rolesha Spears is accused of driving more than 5 miles the wrong way on I-77 before she smashed into another car in October, prosecutors Kevin Brackett and Matt Shelton said Tuesday in York County criminal court. Her blood alcohol concentration was more than three times the legal limit.
The S.C. Department of Public Safety states on its website: "South Carolina law prohibits a person from driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol to the extent that the person's faculties to drive are materially and appreciably impaired. If you have a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, it will be inferred that you were driving under the influence."
The hearing on Tuesday was packed with relatives of the dead and the accused.
Spears is charged with four counts of DUI resulting in death and one count of child endangerment. Spears, 30, of Rock Hill, faces as many as 100 years in prison if convicted.
"Terrible crimes deserve terrible consequences."
Shelton, who specializes in DUI prosecutions, called the case the worst DUI he's seen in 15 years prosecuting impairment cases. He said 11 people called 911 on Oct. 10 to report the wrong-way driver- later identified as Spears - before the fatal crash.
"This is the worst DUI imaginable," Brackett said in court. "Terrible crimes deserve terrible consequences."
Spears' blood alcohol concentration was .258 after the crash, prosecutors said. The legal limit in South Carolina is .08.
Spears allegedly admitted to troopers after the crash she had been drinking " a lot," including beer, wine and liquor, Shelton said in court.
The crash happened near mile marker 80 on I-77, but Spears was driving the wrong way starting in the Fort Mill area, Shelton said.
"She allegedly drove the wrong way 6 miles, for five minutes," Shelton said. "This was a catastrophic wreck."
Rylee Pate, 5, identified in court as Spears' daughter, was a passenger in Spears' car. Rylee was not restrained by a seat belt or car seat at the time of the 12:20 a.m. crash, Shelton said in court.
Jasmine Givens, 27, Briasia Moore, 20, and Nykiera Moore, 17, were in the car that was struck, Shelton said in court. Givens, the driver in the car struck by Spears' vehicle, was the Moore sisters' cousin, officials said.
Suspect wanted bail
Spears was in court seeking bail after her arrest on Jan. 31. She was injured and hospitalized in the October crash and received medical care until her arrest, Shelton said in court. Spears had a broken arm, leg, pelvis and foot, said her lawyer, Ryan Newkirk of the 16th Circuit Public Defender's Office.
Newkirk said Spears has not been convicted of any crime and deserves to be freed before a trial.
Newkirk said Spears has no previous record other than a speeding ticket more than a decade ago. Spears worked for eight years as claims adjuster for an insurance company until the crash, Newkirk said. Spears is neither a flight risk nor a danger to the public because she has no previous criminal record and cannot drive after the crash, Newkirk said.
"These are only allegations," Newkirk said in court. "Bond is not supposed to be punishment."
Spears' family members, including her father and a cousin who is a pastor, asked for bail and said Spears was a good person. Both offered condolences and prayers to the victims' families.
Deceased families, prosecutors, oppose release
Family members of the victims, including Rylee's father, opposed Spears getting bail.
Florence Moore, grandmother to the two Moore sisters killed in the crash, told York County Judge Bill McKinnon her family has been devastated by the wreck.
"If you let her out on bond, what's to stop her from doing the same thing?" Moore said in court.
Both prosecutors, Brackett and Shelton, argued that Spears is both a flight risk and danger to the public if released on bail. Despite Spears having no previous record, a fatal DUI crash where four people died propelled Spears into the "major leagues of crime," Brackett said in court.
McKinnon ruled Spears was not a flight risk but that she was a potential danger to the community if released.
"There is nothing I can do to keep the defendant from driving but to keep her incarcerated," McKinnon said in court.
No trial date has been set.