A parole hearing officer will not recommend David Wilcox for early release from his five-year sentence in a 2007 drunken driving crash that killed pedestrian David Warner Hudson.
Wilcox, 61, has served nine months of his sentence, apparently shaving off days by working in the jail kitchen, and became eligible for parole in half the time he normally would.
In addition to her recommendation to the full Board of Probation and Parole that Wilcox not be granted parole at this time, hearing officer Renee Quaintance said she would recommend he serve the balance of his five-year sentence.
In emotional testimony Wednesday from Hudson’s immediate and extended family, Quaintance heard appeal after appeal not to give her recommendation for Wilcox’s early release.
Likewise, Wilcox’s two sisters and brother-in-law also asked Quaintance to put her blessing on Wilcox’s release.
Wilcox was convicted in December of hitting Hudson, 27, as Hudson crossed West State of Franklin Road after retrieving something from his car. He and a friend had arrived just minutes earlier at Second Level, a club in downtown Johnson City.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Quaintance asked Wilcox what programs he had completed while in custody. Wilcox, who has been serving his sentence at the Washington County Detention Center, said he only worked in the jail kitchen.
Quaintance pressed Wilcox about why he had not even inquired about an in-house treatment program — Residential Substance Abuse Treatment, or RSAT — and he said he thought the program was for drug offenders.
“You realize alcohol is a drug, don’t you?” Quaintance asked. Wilcox’s answer was inaudible because he speaks in a very quiet tone.
In fact, much of Wilcox’s statements during the hearing couldn’t be heard in the courtroom where the hearing was held — including his version of what happened the night Hudson died.
Wilcox had been drinking at Nappy’s bar that night before starting for his residence in Jonesborough. Police said Wilcox’s blood alcohol content shortly after the crash was .15.
During testimony from Wilcox’s brother-in-law, James McGee, Quaintance heard how Wilcox had apparently turned to alcohol to ease the pain of a tragic life leading up to the night he killed Hudson.
Wilcox’ first wife died after their daughter was born, and that child died a few months later. After remarrying, Wilcox had another daughter.
About 10 years ago, the daughter and her young son were “in a horrific crash in Johnson City,” and she died.
His sister, Tina Grindstaff, said her brother “has suffered a lot,” and that he has felt more grief since the crash that killed Hudson.
The Hudson family said they have seen nothing of Wilcox’s reported remorse and told Quaintance he should stay in jail.
In a few weeks, the family will gather to celebrate what would have been David Hudson’s 31st birthday.
His father, Larry Hudson, said he is “haunted” by his son’s death and has experienced sleepless nights, depression and health issues since his son died.
David Hudson’s mother, Sandy Hudson, was almost too overwhelmed to speak, but told Quaintance her dream of being a mother was dashed when her first-born son was killed on that Johnson City street.
John Paul Hudson, David Hudson’s younger brother, said he used to love Johnson City, but now avoids the town where his brother died.
“The only reason I come back is to see my parents and my sister,” he said.
According to Melissa McDonald, spokeswoman for the Board of Probation and Parole, Wilcox’s file from the hearing will begin making rounds to all seven board members until there are three concurring votes for or against parole.
That decision usually takes about two weeks.