By Dylan Goforth
Phoenix Staff Writer
A Muskogee man was sentenced Wednesday to probation for his role in a fatal Memorial Day 2011 crash.
James Robert Calhoun was given a five-year deferred sentence by District Judge Tom Alford. If Calhoun completes the terms of his probation, Alford said the felony manslaughter charge he pleaded guilty to in October can be removed from his record.
“I think it’s a fair disposition,” Calhoun’s attorney Mike Littlefield said. “I think everyone concerned feels it’s appropriate.”
Calhoun, 21, was driving a 1998 Ford Mustang on May 28, 2011, after a barbecue at Greenleaf Lake in Braggs. The vehicle ran off the road about five miles north of Braggs on Oklahoma 10, and Mary Elizabeth Moler, 21, was ejected and killed.
Another passenger, Cody Parks, also was ejected. Calhoun was not ejected, but the Oklahoma Highway Patrol report stated no one inside the vehicle was wearing a seat belt.
That report also said the investigating trooper noticed an odor of alcohol in the vehicle. A toxicology test showed Calhoun had a 0.02 blood/alcohol level — well below the legal limit of 0.08 — Muskogee County Assistant District Attorney Tim King said in court Wednesday.
However, because Calhoun was 20 years old at the time of the crash, he was charged with first-degree manslaughter for Moler’s death.
In a January hearing, Calhoun’s then-attorney Chad Richardson told Special District Judge Robin Adair that Calhoun and Parks gave the same statement to the officer without having time to corroborate their story with each other, which he said proved it was true.
That statement, Littlefield said, was that Moler had become agitated during the drive and had begun striking Calhoun. Littlefield said in court Wednesday that Moler’s mother admitted Moler may have played a role in the crash.
Family members of Calhoun and Moler were in the courtroom Wednesday, and Calhoun gave a brief statement before Alford read the sentence.
“I have to live with it every day of my life,” Calhoun said. “I wish I could take it back. I wish it never happened. I just want to be there for my son.”
Calhoun and Moler had a young son together, named Isaac.
Alford said the case presented a “unique set of circumstances,” and King agreed, saying there “seemed to be some contributory element (to the crash) from the deceased.”
Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or email@example.com.