Man sent to prison in 2006 wreck that killed two | NevadaAppeal.com

Man sent to prison in 2006 wreck that killed two

by F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Billy Joe Thompson listens to his sentencing hearing Tuesday in Carson City Justice Court. Thompson was sentenced to 4-10 years in prison for being under the influence of marijuana when he killed two friends in a car accident on Deer Run Road in February 2006. Thompson's attorney, William Heckman is at left.
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A Carson City man was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison Tuesday for being under the influence of marijuana in a 2006 Deer Run Road wreck in which his two friends were killed.

Billy Joe Thompson, 24, apologized to the families of victims Ashley Masek, 20, and Eric Thompson, 19, no relation, prior to being sentenced to four to 10 years by District Court Judge Bill Maddox.

“I feel bad that it took all of this for me to realize that marijuana isn’t OK,” Billy Joe Thompson added.

Court records indicate he had 32 nanograms of marijuana in his blood within two hours of the Feb. 16, 2006, accident. A person is determined to be impaired at 2 nanograms.

According the Nevada Highway Patrol investigation, Billy Joe Thompson was southbound near Mallow Road when he lost control and went into a broadside skid, careening into a rock and cement pillar, then overturning. His estimated speed was between 82 and 88 mph in the 25 mph zone. He allegedly told officers he was going about 30 mph when he swerved to avoid a dog.

Ashley Masek died en route to the hospital. Eric Thompson was pronounced dead at the scene.

Billy Joe Thompson’s grandparents, who adopted him when he was 2 weeks old, offered testimony on his behalf.

“Billy called me within 10 minutes after the accident, and he was crying and sobbing,” said grandfather Alvis Thompson. “Ever since then, he has been very remorseful.”

Alvis Thompson said that although he was unaware of his marijuana habit at the time, his grandson has since admitted he used marijuana for a painful degenerative back disease.

Grandmother Geraldine Thompson cried as she offered her condolences to the families.

“I know every day that (Billy) grieves. He is so deeply, deeply sorry,” she said.

She said for the past year, her grandson has gone to counseling every Thursday night and has vowed to stay away from drugs.

Thompson’s wife, Toni, also offered some words on his behalf.

“My husband is a wonderful guy and a very hard worker,” she said. “He understands now the full consequences of every decision he makes in his life.”

Under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Kelly Werth, Toni Thompson said her husband frequently smoked marijuana, even with the victims.

“They all smoked together. They just liked to hang out,” she said.

But Eric Thompson’s mother, Kathy, dismissed the suggestion that Billy Joe Thompson was self-medicating with the marijuana.

“Sometimes we just have to own up to the fact that we do things,” she said.

Kathy Thompson said she didn’t see the marijuana use as the cause of the wreck.

“The biggest reason why those two people died was the speed you were going,” she said. “It was a senseless, reckless act. You made the decision to drive at a very high rate of speed on a two-lane residential street.”

She went on to say that although she was certain Billy Joe Thompson was sorry, he had excuses for the marijuana use and denied the excessive speeds estimated by the investigation.

“It’s very important to this family that he finally acknowledge and accept full responsibility,” she said.

In asking for 42 to 120 months in prison on the two charges of driving under the influence of drugs causing death, Deputy District Attorney Werth said:

“Ashley Masek and Eric Thompson aren’t here and they are not here but for Mr. Thompson getting behind the wheel, having ingested marijuana and driving in a such a manner that he went off the road, rolled the vehicle and two people lost their lives.”

Maddox agreed and added six months onto the minimum that Thompson must serve before being eligible for parole.

“I would hope, Mr. Thompson, that you are punishing yourself more than I have,” the judge said.

• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.




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