Plea deal averts re-trial in double fatality, drunk driving case

Last updated: June 03. 2014 4:17PM - 3483 Views
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Timothy Ackley, center, listens in court on Tuesday as Ann Neal describes the impact of her daughter's death. Ackley's defense attorneys Thomas Arrington, left, and Fred Ballam crafted a plea bargain to avoid re-trial of the vehicular homicide case.
Timothy Ackley, center, listens in court on Tuesday as Ann Neal describes the impact of her daughter's death. Ackley's defense attorneys Thomas Arrington, left, and Fred Ballam crafted a plea bargain to avoid re-trial of the vehicular homicide case.
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A London man who killed a West Jefferson couple in a 2012 drunk-driving accident is headed back to prison, following a brief hearing in Madison County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday.


Timothy D. Ackley, 34, was scheduled for re-trial on June 4 after an appeals court overturned his previous conviction on two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide.


Ackley pleaded guilty to the charges in October 2012. But Judge Robert D. Nichols, now retired, failed to inform Ackley a conviction “mandated” prison time. That one-word lapse laid the ground work for an eventual appeal.


Ackley’s conviction and 16-year prison sentence were overturned in March, and the 12th District Court of Appeals ordered the case re-tried.


But a plea bargain authored by Ackley’s court-appointed defense attorneys Fred Ballam and Thomas Arrington made Wednesday’s trial unnecessary.


Ackley again pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide. In exchange, visiting Judge Steven P. Beathard sentenced Ackley to 14 years in prison with credit for two years he’s already served. Beathard also suspended Ackley’s driver’s license for life and ordered the man to pay a $30,000 fine.


Prosecutor Steve Pronai and the family of victims Mark and Joan Williams agreed to the plea deal.


Several, including Joan Williams’ mother, brother and daughters, were in the courtroom on Tuesday.


Ackley faced the survivors and apologized before the judge pronounced sentence.


“I am sorry you have to go through this again,” Ackley told the survivors.


Ann Neal, Joan Williams’ mother, said she never expected to relive a court appearance.


“I never thought I would have to come back,” she told Ackley. “One day you will stand before God… That will be your final judgment.”


Ackley was westbound on state Route 142 near the Gregg Road intersection on April 7, 2012, following a day of drinking at a Hilliard golf course. His westbound pick-up veered left of center, striking the Williamses’ eastbound motorcycle head-on. Both Mark and Joan Williams died instantly.


Ackley attempted to leave the scene and neglected to inform passing motorists of the crash. One passer-by spotted the motorcycle and bodies lying under the truck, then called authorities, investigators said.


Jane Beathard can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 16 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.

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