Driver charged in fatal wreck

Published 11:42 pm Friday, September 7, 2007

NATCHEZ — The driver in a July wreck, which killed three area youth, was arrested Friday on three counts of felony driving while intoxicated charges.

Michael Cody McJohnson, 21, 149 Eagle Road, Vidalia, came to the police station at roughly 8:30 a.m. Friday, Natchez Police Chief Mike Mullins said.

McJohnson was out on a bond of $40,000 for previous charges of aggravated assault linked with a fight that reportedly sparked a high-speed flight.

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McJohnson was released Friday on the same bond on his own recognizance.

The DUI charges are tantamount to a negligent homicide charge and carry a maximum of 25 years each, District Attorney Ronnie Harper said Friday.

The affidavits allege that McJohnson, while driving the vehicle “in a negligent manner” caused the deaths of Justin D. Wiley, Kristen Holmes and Nichlous Kirby.

Mullins said his department had to wait for blood test results from the Mississippi State Crime Lab before they could charge him.

The results showed McJohnson’s blood alcohol content level to be greater than the .08 limit.

Mullins said his office conferred with the district attorney on the proper charges.

The felony DUI charges have greater penalties than manslaughter charges would, Harper said.

“Any type of manslaughter carries 20 years,” Harper said. “DUI negligent homicide actually carries more time.”

McJohnson’s arraignment has been set for 10 a.m. Monday.