Teen Driver Gets Probation in Boyd’s Death

Judge sentences Jonathon Knight to time served
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Times Staff Writer dholden@htimes.com

A circuit judge granted youthful offender status Monday to an 18-year-old Dortmund Drive man who pleaded guilty in the 2005 death of local high school soccer star Stephanie Dawn Boyd.

Jonathon Tyler Knight apologized in open court for causing the wreck that killed Boyd a week before she was to leave to start classes at Auburn University. Boyd’s mother, Deborah Adcox, never got the chance to read a statement she had written to Knight but provided a copy to The Times.

“One night of partying and sneaking your friend out created a lifetime of heartache for me and my family,” she wrote. “You stole from me not only a future with a child that I loved with all my heart, but you stole memories that can never be created.” Someday, when Knight has children of his own, he may realize the pain he has caused, Adcox wrote.

It was hard to hear Knight’s quiet apology in the noisy court room. “I’m sorry for what happened,” he said.

In open court, Circuit Judge Jim Smith gave Knight credit for the time he had already served in the Madison County Detention Facility and placed him on probation for three years. Knight’s criminal record will also be sealed and will not be open to the public. Smith also ordered Knight to attend the Arrive Alive instruction class for motorists that is overseen by the county court’s probation department.

Boyd, Huntsville High School’s all-time leading female scorer, won the Bryant-Jordan Achievement Award in 2005, earning a scholarship to Auburn. The soccer field at Huntsville High School was named for Boyd in February. Deborah Adcox said her daughter’s dimpled smile was more dear than her accomplishments on the soccer field.

The wreck that killed Boyd occurred around 11 p.m. on July 25, 2005. Boyd was turning west from Devon onto Drake Avenue, according to police reports. The other vehicle, driven by Knight, was traveling east on Drake.

Knight was charged with vehicular homicide and first-degree assault. Boyd’s half brother, William Travis Adcox, who was 12, was a passenger in Boyd’s car. Travis Adcox received serious head injuries.

No charges initially.

Police initially said no charges would be filed in the wreck. But a grand jury indicted Knight on the felony charges on Dec. 1, 2005. He was arrested and then released from jail on a $40,000 bail bond.

According to the indictment, Knight was allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol and speeding with his headlights off when he collided with Boyd’s vehicle.

William Lee Adcox and Deborah Adcox, the parents of Stephanie Boyd and William Travis Adcox, sued Knight and his insurance carrier, Farmers Insurance Group, in October 2005. After mediation, the suit was settled out of court in February for $220,000, according to court records.

Circuit Judge Laura W. Hamilton approved the settlement nearly two weeks ago. Under the agreement, Farmers Insurance Group will pay the Adcoxes $200,000 and $20,000 to Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Alabama for medical costs.

More than $151,000 will go into a trust fund for William Travis Adcox to be held until he is 19. Gary Conchin, the Adcoxes’ lawyer, will receive the balance of more than $48,000, for his fees, the court papers said.

Knight’s lawyer, John A. Brinkley Jr., said Monday the settlement of the case and the granting of youthful offender status for Knight was the best solution. “We are very sorry for this tragedy, but it is a positive outcome for everyone involved that will allow them to move on and continue to heal,” he said.

Knight has been in jail since August after his bond was revoked after he allegedly hit someone with a pool cue.

If he had been convicted of vehicular homicide by a jury, Knight could have been sentenced to serve up to five years in prison. Under the youthful offender law, Knight received the maximum of three years.

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