CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – A Colorado teenager who pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter in the deadly crash that claimed the lives of two women was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Monday afternoon.
Taden Jones, 19, took a plea deal at the Arapahoe County Courthouse in Centennial in January. Jones, then 18, was driving when he struck and killed Carolyn Burton and Gayle Buckwalter in April 2016 in a drunk driving crash.
“It was a horrible situation, a very difficult situation,” said victim Gayle Buckwalter’s son, Bill Buckwalter.
Buckwalter and her best friend Carolyn Burton were killed in the crash. Jones had been drinking, was high on drugs and speeding when he slammed into the car they were in.
The level of intoxication for Jones was apparent in his police interview immediately following the crash when he told officers, “If you guys need to see if I was texting and f***ing driving just pull my phone out and check everything on there, I just want my phone back.”
Jones made a tearful apology to the families at his sentencing hearing, and said he will try to be a better person.
“One of the things he said was, ‘I don’t know why God spared me when all of this was my fault but I intend to spend the rest of my life making it up,'” said Jones’s attorney Suzanne Rogers.
The plea could have carried a 24-year prison sentence for Jones but the judge sentenced him to six years on each count of vehicular manslaughter to be served consecutively.
A number of family members for both victims asked the judge for no prison time. Instead, they forgave Jones and want him to keep that promise.
“Taden will learn from this and he will make himself a better person,” said one of the victim’s daughters Beth Johnson.