Guess which driver's facing 21 years in prison — the drunk , rich, white one or the sober, poor, black one?

Two cars collided last year on Cinco de Mayo.

Considering the date, you might assume that at least one of the drivers was drunk — and you'd be right. Laura Varker was 17 years old, and she'd been tubing down the Salt River all day with her eight best girlfriends. Their T-shirts all read "Cinco de Drinko." Even an hour after the accident, Varker's blood-alcohol level was 0.09, over the legal limit for adults. And, as an underage driver, she was in violation of the law by having any amount of alcohol in her system.

One of Varker's girlfriends, 15-year-old Felicia Edwards, didn't drink a drop. But it was Edwards who died when Varker's Yukon Denali hit another car and flipped over and over like a tumbleweed before coming to a horrifying stop on the Bush Highway north of Mesa. Edwards was thrown from the SUV and pronounced dead at the scene.

Bryant Wilkerson's life changed when he collided with a drunk driver.
Andy Hartmark
Bryant Wilkerson's life changed when he collided with a drunk driver.

When sheriff's deputies called Felicia's mother that terrible day, her first question was, "Was she wearing a seat belt?" She wasn't. Instead, Felicia had been in the back of the SUV holding down the tubes — a decision she paid for with her life.

That's a tragedy.

But only in its aftermath did the collision become a travesty. That's because, even after blood tests showed that Varker was legally drunk, and even after sheriff's investigators learned that it was she and another girl who'd flashed a fake ID and bought Coors Light and malt liquor for the group, Varker hasn't been charged with anything.

Not underage consumption.

Not drunken driving.

And certainly not manslaughter.

Instead of charging the affluent white girl, the sheriff's officers arrested the other driver, a black man, a guy who wasn't even legally drunk.

Bryant Wilkerson was a 28-year-old postal service clerk with nothing on his record worse than a fender-bender. That day, he was merely making a U-turn, in a place where U-turns are permitted, when a 17-year-old party girl in her daddy's SUV tried to speed around him.

Wilkerson's life has been upended. He's been charged with nine felony counts, including manslaughter and aggravated assault. He spent three months in jail because he didn't have the money to post bail, and he lost his job because of that. Now under strict curfew and random alcohol and drug screenings for the past five months, he has to get permission from the court just to attend his daughter's band concerts in the evening.

He's facing 21 years in prison.

Meanwhile, Laura Varker is posing on her MySpace page in a bikini.


That day on the Bush Highway, Bryant Wilkerson did one thing wrong. Admittedly, it was really wrong.

He was making a U-turn — which, again, was legal — when he saw Varker's Denali come out of nowhere on his left side. According to the sheriff's report, witnesses suggest Varker saw his little Hyundai slowing and crossed over the yellow lines into the center lane to pass him. At least one witness, a friend of Varker's who was just behind her on the highway, told deputies that the other car was slowing too dramatically for her to stop; Varker had to lurch into the center lane just to avoid rear-ending him.

(Now, you'd think Varker would allow plenty of distance between herself and other drivers. Just seven months earlier, as a 16-year-old with a brand-new license, Varker had caused another accident. Police records say she failed to stop in time and slammed into another car on Cactus Road, which then hit the car in front of it.)

But back to Cinco de Mayo. As he went into the turn, Wilkerson didn't see the SUV veering into the center lane until it was too late.

Amazingly, Wilkerson's Hyundai was just fine, other than losing its bumper. It grazed the SUV and hung on to finish the U-turn.

In their rear-view window, though, Wilkerson's passengers were horrified to see the Denali flipping over and over, according to the sheriff's report.

And that's when, Wilkerson admits, he made a really big mistake. He panicked and took off.

"I freaked out," he says. "That's no excuse; that's so not me. But I had the people in my car yelling, 'Go, go, go!' and I just freaked out and panicked." Sheriff's deputies caught up with him just 10 minutes later.

Because he fled the scene, it's understandable that the sheriff's deputies assumed that Wilkerson had something to hide. Their reports note that he smelled heavily of alcohol, that he'd admitted to smoking pot that morning, that he seemed drunk.

The problem is, all the tests came back well under the legal limit. Wilkerson blew a 0.049 on the sheriff's Breathalyzer. By the time the sheriff's officers did a blood test, which is widely considered much more accurate, Wilkerson's blood-alcohol content was only 0.01. The presence of marijuana was just as minimal. Wilkerson had only trace amounts in his bloodstream.

Never mind. The sheriff's deputies had made up their minds: Wilkerson was to blame for the crash. They arrested him, charging him with manslaughter, aggravated assault, leaving the scene of a fatal injury accident, unlawful flight from law enforcement, and five counts of endangerment. (A sheriff's spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.)

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62 comments
Dave
Dave

Yes that was unfortunate but UI am sick of all that look at whitey get away with everything while the poor struggling black man has to pay crap....BULLSHIT! How about this- Every weekend down here all these ppl ride their malnourished and neglected horses on state highways with no shoulders at dark after the "trailrides" and if anyone would hit them guess what? They wanna sue and if the poor driver of the vehicle happened to maybe even have 1 beer or a glass of wine with dinner guess who is going to prison? Just the other day One of these stupid so called weekend cowboy trailride riders had a horse running in the highway that was struck by a vehicle causing it to flip over onto my car totaling it and did they claim responsibitily? Ofcoarse not but they are liable for the damage and I GOT SCREWED. Now as a white man if it where my horse that did the damage guess what? I would be getting sued for whatever I worked for and yes, I would own up to my responsibiltiy so don't give me that inequality bullshit. It is people like you that continue to stir the hatred and by the way- guess what color the owner of the horse was? So kiss my ass with this poor stuggling black man shit vs the rich white people because if you have money no matter what color you do get away with alot- Just look at O.J. Simpson

jesus
jesus

Who are the parents of this irresponsible child?? Are they an affluent member of society?? This kid needs to be responsible for her actions!! And I don't get Law Enforcement. What kind of training do they receive? If any training at all! Is there any third party review in that state that oversee's these mistakes of justice?? An why didn't the Sheriff's Dept. respond to any media requests?? Something to Hide?? Mistakes maybe?

wow
wow

um....Bebe. You're kinda stupid. You're sitting there arguing that "It was Cinco de Mayo", and "what teenager do you know that doesnt like to party".....THAT DOESNT CHANGE THE LAW DUMB ASS!!! That just shows how immature and self centered you are. Your girl was drunk...he was NOT. Your girl is UNDERAGED, he was not. Numbers are numbers and cant be argued with. His tests came back UNDER THE LIMIT...not "krunk" as that Tim person so eloquently put it(rolls eyes) Leaving the scene? Yeah, bad move on his part. But to sit there and try to justify your drunk, underaged friends reckless (and apparently repetitive) behavior (because you're teenagers that like to have fun, wheee!)is deplorable. Whether you're white, black, green or purple. Grow up dummy.

Adam
Adam

Injustice at its finest. If anyone in a position of power had a shred of fairness they would feel the same as any one of us.

Too bad those times are gone.

He's screwed.

amanda
amanda

the one drunk shad have payed too my uncle was killed in adrunk drive too the guy that killed him got noting

David E. Smith Jr.
David E. Smith Jr.

This story does'nt surprise me. If you are indigent ,in Maricopa County , I strongly urge you to plea not-guilty - no matter what the court appointed attorney tells you.

There is absolutely no compassion , for truth , in the Maricopa County Superior Courts , and you are much better off trusting the average citizen - to uphold our sacred doctrines.

The new legislated gun-law ,that allows 21 year olds to brandish firearms , is another law enforcement tool - that with the combination of alcohol will surely complicate police encounters.

The alarming deadly force encounters are escalating , in Maricopa County , and for good reason. When you have a County Health System , which cannot meet the needs of the general public the crime rate skyrockets.

The State of Arizona is now ,in the mental health business , and the DOC has become the warehouse for the mentally challenged and drug addicted citizenry.

The policy of sending swat-teams to answer possible suicide calls is another problem. You would think that Maricopa County could afford a first-response Psycology team to prevent these potentially deadly encounters.

I'm seriously beginning to think that legislators throw a keg-party - before they vote on life-changing criminal statutes.

Jen
Jen

This is a very tragic story. I personally know Bryant. Byant and his family are wonderful people. Very caring and helpful. They have done much for others. I was very sad to hear that this happend. Hopefully Bryant will be granted a fair trial.

ME
ME

When will she get justice??? Wtf is going on with Laura? It's been TWO years! Has she been charged yet?? This girl needs to be punished. It might have been a mistake, but it was a huge one, one that cost Felicia her life. For all we know, Laura is still out there partying it up, not giving a 2nd thought to what she did. I'd have a little more sympathy for her if this huge tragedy changed her. She hasn't grown up at all...this is all so horrible. Nothing will bring felicia back but I hope the law catches up with Laura "Diamond" Varker.

R.I.P. Felicia Marie Edwards 5-5-07

Whatever
Whatever

Well Bebe, looks like all your stupid ass comments have caught up with you, he was found NOT Guilty. So take that you dumb ass kid. He was not drunk nor high, but little rich bitch had a BA of.09. Wow I wonder who killed the poor 15 year old? Varker is still getting in trouble with the law. It's only a matter of time before she kills again. Lets all hope that the person she kills is herself.

i was there
i was there

Justice- No she absolutely did not. You obviously have not read the police report and aren't capable of posting something you seem to think is FACT, because it's all in the report, that her friend bought it, she did. Thats accusement of a crime not committed. So yeah say Im sticking up for her or whatever, but it's hilarous that everyone believes this rediculous story.. anyone with sense can tell there is something fishy about it. They didn't throw an innocent black man in prison for nothing "sweetie." Since you know so much about this case why dont you attend his trial and see the truth about his charges yourself... Im sure the bitch that wrote this knows when it is.

Just Justice
Just Justice

Hey Little Miss "I Was There" - if you WERE there, then you'd know that Laura did indeed purchase alcohol with a fake ID. There is NO disputing that part of the day.

i was there
i was there

Bebe and Timmy are the only two who know what they're talking about. This article was written for one purpose and one purpose only. that purpose was not to inform the public of what goes on in the world, it was only to pursuade the public into believing a one sided article in hopes of bettering a guilty mans chances in court due to the amount of publicity it stirrs up. As you can see, it surely accomplished that. However the truth is far from what this article provides for you. Sarah Fenske, the author, interviewed Bryant Wilkerson. His statements are her only source. He will obviously do and say whatever he can to make himself sound innocent. Yes, I was there, and I do know Laura Varker. However I am an honest person, and I wouldn't cover up for anyone in this situation, becuase a close friend of mine lost her life. I just believe if someones name is going to be slandered being only 17, it's probably a horrifically painful experience to read through this knowing it's not all true. Laura did NOT purchase alcohol with a fake id, nor was she drunk. Every officer and emt on scene suspected no indication of intoxication. If the other side of the story came out it would look something like this; Wilkerson first of all does not look like that picture, a video of the chase he led arresting officers in shows him to have dread locks to his waste... we all know what that means. Wilkerson ..a wife and kids? please he was at the river with his 20 year old girlfriend whom he purchased alcohol for and 5 other women. Wilkerson doesnt drive anymore because he doesnt want to take a risk of getting into another accident cuz you "just never know?" wow really? Wilkerson doesnt have insurance just like he didnt when the accident happened. Since when should anyone be embarrassed for having money? Varkers family obeyed the law by having valid vehilcular insurance. Wilkerson just broke another law. Wilkersons blood was taken exactly four hours and 52 minutes after he was taken into custody, NOT ON THE SCENE. Wilkerson was under the influence of alcohol, marajuana, and several central nervous system depressants. So the only information you (sarah fenske) informed the public with was that he fled the scene.. Varkers family could actually sue the new times for defamation due to the harassment of this girls name and false statements printed in a public newspaper. Anyway, i hope everyone gets to read this. i think this was a true accident and a horrible tragedy. I just believe all facts should be printed IF ANY

Timmy
Timmy

you mother fucker , Felicia was my best friend , for you to be so biased you racist piece of shit , he was KRUNK he was high he was drunk he murdered an innocent 15 year old girl and left the scene. how can you possibly defend that. Now if his dumbass wasnt high and drunk maybe he wouldnt have gotten lost and had to do a u-turn in the middle of a highway. so you think your some creative writer huh? why dont you email me at timnchs@gmail.com or meet me up somewhere to debate this . RIP FELICIA MARIE EDWARDS

Bebe Felicia's Bestfriend
Bebe Felicia's Bestfriend

All I have to say is that this article right here is nowhere near professional. It seems to me that the writer was angry for some reason & just put her opinions down a peice of paper and published it.

I mean just read the title..BULLSHIT.

If Laura was SO fucked up than how did she even have the strength to function?

And if 'he' WASNT so fucked up than why didnt he handle the situation like the adult he is?

Aint nobody covering up for anybody. It's just the fact that even if someone does tell the truth it's gonna get twisted anyways just like the fucked up world we call home.

People dont think about what the fuck is going to happen next but instead think about drama, drama & drama.Drama dont make the world go 'round, life does.Stop the nonsense, have commonsense & be real.

that's all I gotta say.

Rest In Peace Felicia Marie Edwards

100291-050507

Love & Miss you bestfriend.

Bebe Felicia's Bestfriend
Bebe Felicia's Bestfriend

Who ever wrote this had no right to have any kind of word in this case because of the fact that "whom" wasnt there in the first place. Anyone that has anything to say about this can email me. I AM Felicia's bestfriend and I AM a honest person. This article is obviously just a one track way to nonsense; not making any sense of the REAL WORLD. Who doesnt know a teenager that likes to have fun and party? Who doesnt know a teenager that hasnt tried a drink? IT WAS CINCO DE MAYO FOR GOD'S SAKE. EXACTLY my point. Evidently whoever wrote this is just trying to make a false statement on a INNOCENT & just trying to make some kinda of profit off of talking straight BULLSHIT. Laura is a close friend of mine & I know for a fact if she was too damn drunk to operate a vehicle she wouldnt have thought about it; obviously she was fine. IF she was so damn drunk why didnt she just ask one of her 12 friends so drive? EXACTLY my point again, she might of had a drink or two only GOD knows why a drugged up man would stop in the middle of a bridge, make a illegal u-turn [also without a warning like a turn signal AT LEAST], have people run from his vehicle and run AFTER, KNOWING THAT WHAT JUST HAPPENED WAS WRONG. Pointblank. If you really want to know why Felicia was in the vehicle in the first place was because she started her menstrual cycle that day and she needed a tampon to stop her from bleeding. That was why she was in the backseat not just to hold some tube but also to look for a simple tampon. WHO KNEW that a fun, happy, care-free day was going to turn out a complete disaster. So I suggest who ever wrote this article should think twice & realize some things. Anyone with commonsense would know that this is straight bullshit.

-Bebe. The Bestfriend.

George
George

What a crock of poop! Another man, although he fled, a victim of driving while Black.

And this statement comes froma White Irish man.

No justice for the good. No charges for the teen girl who bought beer with fake ID.

The Mother of the dead teen should sue the store who sold the teen the alcohol. Sue them to kingdom come!

ME
ME

Yeaa anyways. I'm not trying to play at anything. I'm telling it like it is. And I will be the 1st to say me and felicia weren't best friends but we were friends so fuck you.

--
--

to whoever "ME" is -- you dont know shit about the accident like everyone else on here, so you can quit playing "im felicias best friend feel sorry for me..." its pathetic

K
K

You can clearly see who is a part of Varker's 'party'...family/friends...they're all the ones saying she's not to blame at all. Give me a break. You get NO brownie points for teaching your drunk underage daughter/friend that it's OK to do what she did. Guess what? It completely matters that she was drunk -- her reaction time just PLUMMETED with her ILLEGAL activities that day (and how UNCONSCIONABLE to decide to drive and put all of those OTHER lives at risk, too). You STOP when there's a car in front of you -- and you drive slowly enough, and in control enough, to be ABLE to stop for sudden changes in the flow of traffic. Do you not get that? Oh no, she's your friend/family member, she can do NO WRONG. Tell that to the girl who died. Heh. Varker is at LEAST as culpable -- really MORE so than the other driver (though they both hold some serious blame, but running from the scene of an accident, however STUPID and UNCONSCIONABLE in its own right to do such a thing, does NOT lessen VARKER's role in this, but you sure do seize on it, don't you? Because that's all you've got!)

You (the parents, the friends of Varker) should own up to this unless you really want to set your precious drunken underage fake-ID'd delinquent daughter/friend on her way to being a hag alcoholic with all manner of venereal disease before she's 25! Oh, but I bet you'll buy her way out of that, too, now won't you? You'll no doubt try, at least...

ME
ME

CORRECTION: She was my friend on myspace until I deleted her when I found out she was the drunk one.

ME
ME

Felicia was my friend. The day I found out she died, I couldn't believe it...I had just talked to her the day before. I even told her not to go the lake because it was dangerous [[she wasn't planning on telling her mom]]. That week went by so fast. We had gone over to a friend's house to figure out what we were going to do to help out Felicia's family. That was the first day I met Diamond AKA Laura. She seemed nice enough i guess. She literally had nothing on her but a scratch. Then she went on to explain what happened in the accident.I couldn't believe it.She was playing the victim.She KILLED Felicia!This article said Laura Varker was with her 8 best girlfriends. ***BULL! Felicia knew ONE person that day. She met Diamond & everybody else THAT day.

I know for a fact that "Laura's friend" is covering for her. Her "friend" used to be my friend. And fukk her for saying she was Felicia's best friend. Felicia's best friend wouldn't sit there and cover the truth to protect her other so called murderer friend.Yes, the guy shouldn't have fled the scene. He should be charged with something but 21 years? ***Laura was the one drunk.

And by the way I heard she had gotten into TWO car accidents before this one. So for anyone to say Diamond isn't responsible is stupid. Laura's irresponsible ass should go to jail. It shouldn't matter how rich she is. I don't understand why she hasn't gotten charged with anything. I mean what the fukk? Meanwhile Diamond is my friend on myspace. She hasn't changed. She's still out partying, drinking, driving, drunk-driving, etc. She shows no remorse whatsoever and this was supposed to be her friend she killed?? ***She killed a perfect stranger and she's still out doing what she does.

I hope justice gets served. My prayers are with Felicia's family.

Jason
Jason

I find it strange that none of her friends are talking about it and told the girl's parents about it. I smell coverup. Can you say coverup? Sure I knew you could.

This guy, minding his own business, trying to make a turn gets clipped by someone obivously driving too fast and he gets charged? Not only that, but she's underage and over the legal limit? What the fuck?!

How's this for a apology, "I'm sorry you were drunk and hit my car while you were speeding and rolled your car causing the death of one of your friends."Sorry, that just doesn't sound right to me.

This girl MUST BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR HER ACTIONS. Screw the lawyers. If the parents are only concerned about making any problem go away, maybe they shouldn't be parents anymore. As a result of this incident, I am hereby calling for a boycott of Dial products till this is resolved.

dianna
dianna

So nice to know everything is blamed on whites very one sided I believe you need to start writing things without refering to color or this is also prjudice I think its time we start speaking up for whites.

whatever
whatever

AND not only was she drunk, but someone died because of her irresponsible actions...just because he is 28 does not mean that the whole thing is his fault. she was driving the car that killed an innocent person. how dense do you have to be?

whatever
whatever

anonymous,you are serverely uninformed. please refer to my previous comment:by the way...according to the driving manual, leaving the scene of the crash involving death means your driving privilege is revoked for five years...

http://www.azdot.gov/mvd/docum...

not that you go to jail for 21 years. and additionally, the penalties added together STILL do not equal 21 years if you are under the influence.

and a DUI IS a VERY serious offense. are you kidding me?!

Kehkoh Jones
Kehkoh Jones

Here's a really stupid statement: "Varker's lawyers have also hired a retired Phoenix cop, who surveyed the scene and concluded that Wilkerson erred when he slowed down to make the U-turn." Firstly, the attorney will say anything (why are attorneys called professional liars???) to get their clients off. Secondly, that hired ex-cop is being paid to say anything that will shift blame away from the client's daughter. Question: HOW in the world does one make a "U" turn without slowing down? Eh... uhm... ahh... ahem... Hellooo? "Scotty, beam me up... there's NO sign of intelligent life form down here!"

Kehkoh Jones
Kehkoh Jones

I seem to be missing something... perhaps where this accident occurred, it's illegal for someone to leave the scene of a fatal accident EVEN IF ONE IS NOT DIRECTLY INVOLVED as it is indicated here, and I can understand the law being in place to help police piece together the events that took place and have witnesses testify afterward in an inquest or trial. That makes sense IF THAT IS THE LAW, however, where does it indicate that the man was "responsible" for causing this accident by leaving? And where in the law does it say if the one speeding, the one who was obviously legally drunk, and was the one that actually caused the accident, was coming from behind Mr. Wilkerson should NOT have been charged with involuntary manslaughter, vehicular homicide, DUI, etc? OK, the first thing I always hear Caucasians say is, "Let's not make this into a race issue" whenever the person wrongly accused or wrongly incarcerated is a non-Caucasian and the other parties involved are Caucasians. OK, let's leave the ethnic/racial issue out of this; what else can we attribute this blatant miscarriage of justice to? The one responsible for this fatal accident was speeding and unable to stop because of the speed of the vehicle AND her reflexes were impaired by alcohol consumption according to the Breathalyzer Test taken about AN HOUR LATER (up to this point, I don't see where Mr. Wilkerson is to blame for anything); she careened into the other vehicle and caused the death and injuries of the passengers of the other vehicle... (WHERE, at this point, is Mr. Wilkerson guilty of anything?). Let me regurgitate some of the report: HE was not drunk or high at the moment the other vehicle smashed into the 2nd vehicle, he was making a LEGAL "U" turn, and his concern or control over what was behind him is irrelevant (no one can control what goes on in a vehicle that is coming behind one; one can only HOPE that person is following the Rules of the Road, and is not impaired or will run into one's vehicle from behind). OK, so Mr. Wilkerson left the scene of an accident HE did NOT cause, and he may have broken a law that I am unaware of, and he admits leaving the scene of a fatal accident... is he also going to be charged with Lincoln's Assassination, Lindbergh baby kidnapping and for the aftermath of Katrina in Louisiana, too? Sheesh, is leaving a scene of a fatal accident worse than CAUSING the accident while speeding and drunk...? Are those sheriffs cops screwing that girl and her mom (and possibly the dad)? Doesn't the DA and the Courts have any common sense?

Robin
Robin

all the people defending the varker bitch are also the ones who will soon be in jail for drunk driving, dui's, dwi's, and all the other charges that goes with not knowing how to drive and how to respect people on the road on top of them being reckless drivers themselves. so i will say this. SEE YOUR SIMPLE ASSES IN THE NEWS SOON EITHER DEAD OR GOING TO JAIL FOR CAUSING A FATAL ACCIDENT LIKE SHE DID. PEACE

Anonymous
Anonymous

He fled the scene of an accident.He is 28 years old, He knows better.Fleeing such a severe accident is much, much, much more of a crime than DUI.

Mike Fisher
Mike Fisher

SORRY FOR THE CAPS, BUT THIS IS A POINT THAT HAS TO BE MADE. THE TRUTH OF THIS STORY IS NOT BLACK OR WHITE, NOT RICH OR POOR, NOT WHO WAS HIGHER/DRUNKER. IT ALL COMES DOWN TO ONE INDISPUTABLE, IRREFUTABLE, FROM THE BEGINNING OF TIME FACT.................. WOMEN CAN'T DRIVE. PEACE!

JESSICA
JESSICA

OK . . . THIS WHOLE THING IS SO FUCKING STUPID ! ! ! IT IS ALL LAURAS FAULT . . . SHE BOUGHT BOOZE WITH A FAKE ID , WAS ON THE RIVER GETTING DRUNK , FLASHING HER TITS FOR BEADS AND DRIVING LIKE A FUCKING IDIOT ! ! ! BRYANT WAS IN THE TURNING LANE MAKING A U-TURN AND INSTEAD OF GOING STRAIGHT LAURA DECIDED TO GO INTO THE WRONG LANE TO GET AROUND HIM . . . THAT IS OBVIOUSLY HER FAULT . . . HE WAS TURNING AND SHE WAS WASTED AND CANT DRIVE . . . SHE WAS IN A SIMILAR ACCIDENT A YEAR BEFORE THIS ONE . . . HER PARENTS SHOULD HAVE TAKEN HER VEHICLE FROM HER THEN AND IF THEY DID NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED ! ! ! I THINK ITS BULLSHIT THAT LAURA THOUGHT IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO DRIVE WASTED INSTEAD OF LETTING THE SOBER GIRL DRIVE . . . NO SHE HAS THE ONLY SOBER ONE IN BACK HOLDING THE TUBES WHILE SHE DRIVES WASTED . . . SHE SHOULD HAVE BEEN SMARTER AND NOT DROVE AND THIS WOULD HAVE NEVER HAPPENED . . . THAT POOR LITTLE GIRL WOULD STILL BE HERE AND BRYANT WOULD NOT BE GOIN THREW ALL THIS BULLSHIT . . . YES HE SHOULD HAVE NOT LEFT THE SCENE BUT HE ALREAY WENT TO JAIL FOR THAT SO THAT SHOULD BE ENOUGH ! ! ! IT SHOULD BE DONE AND OVER WITH . . . LAURA SHOULD BE GOING TO JAIL FOR WHAT SHE DID NOT BRYANT ! ! ! BUT BECAUSE SHES RICH SHE WONT HAVE TO PAY FOR WHAT IS OBVIOUSLY HER FAULT ! ! ! SHE NEEDS TO LEARN THAT THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES FOR HER STUPID ACTIONS ! ! !

Robin
Robin

ok i dont know what some of you are reading but heres exactly what i see in this fiasco and travesty of justice.#1 "Varker's blood-alcohol level was 0.09, over the legal limit for adults. And, as an underage driver, she was in violation of the law by having any amount of alcohol in her system."#2One of Varker's girlfriends, 15-year-old Felicia Edwards, didn't drink a drop. But it was Edwards who died when Varker's Yukon Denali hit another car and flipped over and over like a tumbleweed.#3. even after blood tests showed that Varker was legally drunk, and even after sheriff's investigators learned that it was she and another girl who'd flashed a fake ID and bought Coors Light and malt liquor for the group, Varker hasn't been charged with anything.#4.Instead of charging the affluent white girl, the sheriff's officers arrested the other driver, a black man, a guy who wasn't even legally drunk.#5. He's been charged with nine felony counts, including manslaughter and aggravated assault.#6. He was making a U-turn � which, again, was legal #7. a friend of Varker's who was just behind her on the highway, told deputies that the other car was slowing too dramatically for her to stop; Varker had to lurch into the center lane just to avoid rear-ending him. pls explain how she avoided this if she hit the car?#8. Police records say she failed to stop in time and slammed into another car on Cactus Road, which then hit the car in front of it.)(the first accident)#9. Their reports note that he smelled heavily of alcohol, that he'd admitted to smoking pot that morning, that he seemed drunk.#10. The problem is, all the tests came back well under the legal limit. Wilkerson blew a 0.049 on the sheriff's Breathalyzer. By the time the sheriff's officers did a blood test, which is widely considered much more accurate, Wilkerson's blood-alcohol content was only 0.01. The presence of marijuana was just as minimal. Wilkerson had only TRACE amounts in his bloodstream.#11. Never mind. The sheriff's deputies had made up their minds: Wilkerson was to blame for the crash.#12. Wilkerson learned in jail that the SUV driver had been legally drunk.#13. They were charging the guy who was below the legal limit with manslaughter, and they weren't charging the drunk with anything?#14. "In this particular case, within a few days, the sheriff's department had in their hands a report saying "SHE WAS LEGALLY DRUNK."#15. And yet they HAVENT charged her.#16. In early December, he says, he was finally informed that the Sheriff's Office had filed a supplemental report suggesting that CHARGES BE FILED AGAINST Varker.#17. Varker's lawyers have also hired a retired Phoenix cop, who surveyed the scene and concluded that Wilkerson erred when he slowed down to make the U-turn. By doing so, the former police officer wrote, Wilkerson impeded the flow of traffic, forcing Varker into the center lane. if she went into the center lane again how the hell did she hit him? #18.why he's the one looking at 21 years, while Laura Varker continues on her way. EXCUSE ME BUT IF HE HADNT OF SLOWED DOWN THEN HE WOULD HAVE BEEN NOT ONLY IMPEDING TRAFFIC BUT BREAKING THE LAW SO HE'S BEING CHARGED FOR FOLLOWING THE LAW. WHILE THE DRUNK AND LAW BREAKER IS STILL OUT AND ABOUT DRIVING AROUND MORE THEN LIKELY DRUNK!!!

with all that said right there anyone who doesnt believe this is about race is full of shit. and they know it. the ONLY CHARGE HE SHOULD BE FACING IS LEAVING THE SCENE OF THE CRIME. that lil drunk girl should be the one facing everything else and the fact that this is her second driving accident should also play a part. it shows that she's already a danger on the road. with no care and concern for other drivers. if she is so right and did nothing wrong why is her family hiring so many lawyers and pressuring her friends not to talk to anyone? BECAUSE THEY KNOW. mark my words this wont be the only time that lil girl kills someone. its just the beginning for her. at 17 she has no business drinking. and those who sold them the beer and/or liquor should also be charged with selling to minors.and on top of that she's involving others in her bs. my prayers goes out to Mr Wilkerson and his family. you will make it thru this. you did the right thing in calling the NAACP. into it to help you. the sheriffs deputies are probably family and friends to the varkers. who if they dont force their child to face up to her wrong now. will soon be the ones burying their child. one way or another.

Nic
Nic

I,m black and I thought OJ did it for the beginning, bad analogy. When I lived in Florida, a white girl (parents with money) hit 3 kids killing all of them, fleed the scene dragging one of them. Parents attorneys got her off. That was the first sign that I needed to leave Florida. But sadly this happens everywhere. James is completely correct. White people are still totally racist, and being a black golf professional, I am completely exposed to this. OJ got off because of money and money alone. This is what will happen with that spoiled brat, and she will probably do it again. If the police have label her legally drunk, then thats a felony, and if she caused an accident she needs to be held liable. Im sure it wont happen, sad but true. I see racism on the decline, but its our parents of any race that harness that racial divide. It's up to us to expunge that hate, not let your parents mold you improperly. Anyone teaching their children hate this day and age are going to be left behind i can assure you. People that become judges or law enforcement are corrupt as all hell, and hell bent on seeing their views through, don't kid yourself. Look at how are Supreme Court is appointed, by views. The girl will get a slap on the wrist unless an activist makes this large. They both need to be in trouble and charged for exactly what they have done. Phoenix Law Enforcement should be ashamed of themselves.

Kathy
Kathy

�from article..�The problem is, all the tests came back well under the legal limit. Wilkerson blew a 0.049 on the sheriff's Breathalyzer. By the time the sheriff's officers did a blood test, which is widely considered much more accurate, Wilkerson's blood-alcohol content was only 0.01.�

Information from �wikipedia.com

*The rate of elimination (of alchohol) in the average person is commonly estimated at .015 to .020 percent per hour, although again this can vary from person to person and in a given person from one moment to another.

*Approximate Blood Alcohol Percentage

*Subtract approximately .01% every 40 minutes after drinking.

Progressive Effects of Alcohol[1]

BAC (%) Behavior Impairment0.01�0.029�Avg. individual appears normal �Subtle effects that can be detected with special tests 0.03�0.059�Mild euphoria �Lowered alertness *Sense of well-being �Judgment *Relaxation *coordination �Talkativeness *concentration �Joyous *blunted feelings �Decreased inhibition *Relaxation �Talkativeness �Joyous �Decreased inhibition 0.06�0.10 �Disinhibition *depth perception �Extroversion *distance acuity �Impaired Sexual Pleasure �Reflexes Impaired �Reasoning *peripheral vision *glare recovery *However, it is generally accepted that the consumption from sober of two standard drinks (containing a total of 20 grams) of alcohol will increase the average person's BAC roughly 0.05% (a single standard drink consumed each hour after the first two will keep the BAC at approximately 0.05%),

So what this says to me�

*To be at .049 BAC when given a breathalizer test, he would have had to consumed at most 2 drinks, and have had at most one drink every hour to keep at that level. Doesn�t sound like heavy drinking to me�

*To have a .01 on a blood test, the test would have been taken at most 2, possibly 3 hours after the breathalizer� this backward extrapolation is commonly used by law enforcement to determine the true BAC level at the time on the accident. Sounds like standard processing/booking time at most jail/incarceration locations to me (and that law enforcement is smart enough to realize time lowers a persons BAC thus the backward extrapolation)�

*True, with affects of lowered alertness and judgement, as well as lowered coordination and concentration.. he should not have been driving, but was only minimally impaired. But, he was the lead car making what according to the article is a legal u-turn, it is the responibility of the person following to leave an appropriate distance to allow for reaction time�

*(Ignoring being underage) She should not have been driving (also never should have allowed an unrestrained person in her vehicle) with a BAC of .09 which causes impaired: reflexes, reasoning, depth perception, distance acuity, peripheral vision, and glare recovery. Her going that speed, impaired is what caused this tragic accident.

I agree that he should receive sentancing for fleeing the scene of a fatality accident, but that does not equal 21 years in ANY state. I think she should receive sentencing and punishment for 1. underage intoxication 2. driving while intoxicated 3. use of a fake id 4. reckless driving with an unrestrained passenger 5. involuntary manslaughter� and possible other violations under Arizona state statute that I am unfamiliar with.

Seems like an open and close case gone HORRIBLY wrong to me.

John M.
John M.

This article would have been helped out so much if it weren't for the blatant slant. Even the title is misleading, as I wouldn't call a guy who had a few beers and was high at the time "sober". The story writes itself, there is no need to skew it so much. The passive stance when discussing the wrongs that the guy made, while taking a very aggressive perspective against the girl was transparent and really effected the way I read the article.

It could have easily been written like:

"Laura Varker was a sweet 17 year old girl who everybody liked, while Bryant Wilkerson was a cowardly stoner whose thoughtless U-turn ended up with the death of Laura's best friend."

The facts naturally make Varker appear to be in the wrong, as well as show the situation as being unfair. There is no need for the biased, emotional, journalism in this piece. I found it very distracting and unprofessional.

Kris
Kris

I have a quick question. How is doing a U-Turn over a double yellow line legal? Most states say that it isn't. True, passing someone on the left is legal, but not when doing so means you go over a double yellow line. So in actuality, they are both at fault.

But I wonder how she still had her license? In California, if you are found to have alcohol in your system and you are under age, your right to drive is taken.

I get the point of the article, which is to question why only one person is being charged. And I have to wonder, too. Because if he had of just went up to a light with a turn lane ('cause it sounds like he missed his turn and decided to do a quickie turn) and if she had of been smart and had been traveling the correct distance, a death may not have accured.

Now, we seem to also be over looking one big issue. One that is worth a huge ticket here in California. The victum should have been wearing her seat belt. What, they don't show the scared straight video of what happens when you don't wear a seat belt? I am terrified not to wear mine. Hold down the tubes? Isn't that what rope is for? And you can't use "they are teenagers" as an excuss. I am one and I would have said either find some rope and get a guy to tie it down or would have left them as they were. As I see it, they are three victims here, all who have suffered from a bout of stupidity.

All well, this is just my opinion.

whatever
whatever

some people cannot read...i swear...you only see what you want to see. he got a breathalyzer at the scene, LUKE:"The problem is, all the tests came back well under the legal limit. Wilkerson blew a 0.049 on the sheriff's Breathalyzer. By the time the sheriff's officers did a blood test, which is widely considered much more accurate, Wilkerson's blood-alcohol content was only 0.01. The presence of marijuana was just as minimal. Wilkerson had only trace amounts in his bloodstream."

ADDITIONALLY, she was under 21 and had been drinking. no matter what her alcohol content was, underaged drinking=no tolerance. and she was driving too fast, swerved into a lane illegally, was following too closely, etc. she was also at fault...more at fault, actually. but nobody seems to get that.

not saying he doesn't have any fault, because he does. but not 21 years of prison worth. ms. varner should also have the same penalties as he does and be under house arrest..

whatever
whatever

by the way...according to the driving manual, leaving the scene of the crash involving death means your driving privilege is revoked for five years...

http://www.azdot.gov/mvd/docum...

not that you go to jail for 21 years. and additionally, the penalties added together STILL do not equal 21 years if you are under the influence. plus, he was driving the OTHER car, she was BEHIND him, it was her fault. smells a little fishy to me...

Luke
Luke

What the hell is wrong with you, race-baiter? .09 is not high enough to be dangerous, and you suggest that just because she's under 21 it's somehow drunk driving to have any alcohol in you. No, driving drunk is drunk driving. And fleeing the scene of an accident is worse. How can your headline say he's SOBER because he eluded authorities for hours until his breath test sank a little below the girls? This is the worst "journalism" I've ever read.

whatever
whatever

i'm pretty sure what the stupid girl did was reckless driving, and this is the law:28-693. Reckless driving; classification; license; surrender

A. A person who drives a vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.

B. A person convicted of reckless driving is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.

C. In addition, the judge may require the surrender to a police officer of any driver license of the convicted person, shall report the conviction to the department and may order the driving privileges of the person to be suspended for a period of not more than ninety days. On receipt of the abstract of conviction and order, the department shall suspend the driving privilege of the person for the period of time ordered by the judge.

D. If a person who is convicted of a violation of this section has been previously convicted of a violation of this section, section 13-1102 or section 13-1103, subsection A, paragraph 1, in the driving of a vehicle, or section 28-708, 28-1381, 28-1382 or 28-1383 within a period of twenty-four months:

1. The person is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.

2. The person is not eligible for probation, pardon, suspension of sentence or release on any basis until the person has served not less than twenty days in jail.

3. The judge may require the surrender to a police officer of any driver license of the person and shall immediately forward the abstract of conviction to the department.

4. On receipt of the abstract of conviction, the department shall revoke the driving privilege of the person.

E. The dates of the commission of the offense are the determining factor in applying subsection D of this section. A second or subsequent violation for which a conviction occurs as provided in this section does not include a conviction for an offense arising out of the same series of acts.

F. On pronouncement of a jail sentence under this section, and after the court receives confirmation that the person is employed or is a student, the court may provide in the sentence that if the defendant is employed or is a student the defendant can continue employment or schooling for not more than twelve hours per day nor more than five days per week. The defendant shall spend the remaining days or parts of days in jail until the sentence is served and shall be allowed out of jail only long enough to complete the defendant's actual hours of employment or schooling.

PS kris..i would like you to state where you found out that if you are making a legal u-turn and someone hits you from BEHIND, that you are at fault. because i'm pretty sure if you rear-end someone because you are following too closely, you are always at fault, and that's exactly what happened here..hmmm...

Eric
Eric

He ran. He panicked. He was wrong for doing that. OK. She was underage, drunk, buying booze and had a record of causing an accident in the past.

I read a lot of responses in here and for all of you who think this guy was wrong, why aren't you addressing what she did wrong. If it were you driving drunk, don't you think you would have done some kind of jail time?

Kids, remember, if your rich, you can get away with anything. This is the life lesson learned here?

He made a legal U turn...she hit him.

I wonder how things would have played out if he stayed?...

To this day, DWB's still occur.Damn.

Shawn Felder
Shawn Felder

Wow, I read this entire story and I am extremely shocked. I don't even know where to start. I am not about to take you back through this entire situation again, for it has already put a burden on your life. However, I do have a way for you to get the legal help you need. I don't know if you ever heard of this in your town before, but it's called Pre-Paid Legal Services. I will go more in detail with it for you more when you email me. It's just like have Johnnie by your side. It is far better then having a public defender. I look forward to hearing from you very very soon. Justice must be brought to you and your family.

Sam
Sam

That still wouldn't set him anywhere near 21 years though. The law in big cities has become corrupted and volatile (in most of them anyway).

kris
kris

What people need to understand is the word of the law. If he made a U-turn on a highway (even if it is LEGAL as stated repeatedly by the writer) and was involved in an accident he is AT FAULT. Period. When making a U-turn you never have the right-of-way. The fact that he had alcohol and an illegal narcotic in his system then ran from the scene only make it worse. Yes, the girl should have been wearing her seatbelt, and the driver girl was an idiot for drinking and driving and probably speeding (and most would agree should face some comparative negligence). But he is at fault for a collision resulting in a fatality and had alcohol in his system. The article states he made only one bad decision by leaving the scene, but he made three. You don't have to have a .08 to be drunk if you cause an accident. Any amount of alcohol will make the charges worse. The biased way that this story is presented completely devalues any information you could glean from it. It's a pathetic example of race-baiting at its worst.

Lynn
Lynn

I find it really interesting that she has not even been charged with underage drinking. My son was stoped for a tail light issues and arrested for drinking and driving at 19. He was not charged witha DUI because he was well under the limit but he was charged with underage drinking. Peoria went after him like a killer and he didnt get in a accident. He was alone. He spent 3 days in jail... and we got a attorney. The system is very one sided and plays what ever roll it wants. Bottom line..you have money you by freedom. So instead of complaining donate to help this young man get a fair trail.

Joe
Joe

I hope NT updates us on this trial.

21 years for fleeing a scene? For 10 minutes? Is that for real? Seriously, how the fuck are prison terms decided in this stupid country? What are pedophiles getting these day--6 months? What about rapists? Hell, even murderers? Police are fucking worthless... My head is going to explode.

Sam
Sam

If the world is really being run by people LIKE HER, then I feel sorry for it...

miss
miss

This is very injustice. Rich people LIKE HER makes the world go around.

Sam
Sam

How can this be so complicated? It is amazingly simple!The guy was making a legal u-turn, when all of a sudden the girl comes out of nowhere, drunk as a fish, (SHE) hits his rear bumper, and yet he gets 21 years?Granted, he had traces of mariguana, yes, he had something to drink, ok, he ran off. At the most, note again the word "MOST", he should have recieved MAYBE 8 years. But 21? You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that there is something wrong with that picture.Not only that, but the girl was drunk, she did not enforce the rules of the state by not telling her friends to buckle up, which as a driver she should have done, and she ended up killing her friend! As far as i'm concerned, her parents are stupid, irresponsible, demented, retarded, and utterly arrogant people who are the ones who should be getting the 21 years in prison! That also goes for the police officers and detectives who concluded that the victim was at fault! And for those of you who think i'm wrong, I dare you to come down to Globe and tell that to my face! Down here in GHS, we don't tolerate racism.

what
what

first of all,

ash-they make comments on a story open so that people can give their opinion. last time i checked, we leave in a free country and have a right to give our "two CENTS" on topics that are posted on a PUBLIC website. and opinions do matter. yours was pointless.

and for everyone who keeps pointing out that he didn't look in his rear view mirror, i don't look at mine 100% of the time when im making a u-turn because i would expect that the person driving behind me would be paying attention. when you make a u-turn, you are supposed to be making sure that cars are not APPROACHING. do you look in your rear-view mirror when you make a right-hand turn? it's the same damn thing!!!

they are both at fault. he doesn't deserve 21 years..she does..and an innocent life was lost due to irresponsibility. he fled the scene and should get time. she controlled the vehicle that caused a friend to die. i don't see why she wouldn't get ANY sort of punishment even if the other guy did for some reason have partial blame. yet, he was the leading car and she should have paid more attention. it shouldn't be THAT complicated.

 
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