RALEIGH — A Cary woman who was driving drunk after a party to celebrate her 21st birthday was given a gift this week by the family of the man who was killed as a result of the car wreck she caused that night.
Elizabeth Lorene Stevens, 22, pleaded guilty Thursday in Wake County Superior Court to felony death by motor vehicle and driving while impaired in the wee hours of Dec. 18, 2011.
Stevens could have spent years in prison. Instead, she was sentenced to six months in jail and three years of probation as part of a plea deal developed by prosecutors and the family of Dewahn Ahmad Tyler, the father of four who died from injuries in the T-bone crash at the intersection of Lead Mine and Lynn roads.
Tyler, whose life ended at 32, had done a stint in the Navy and was studying criminal justice at the time of his death.
His stepfather, Darryl Page of Durham, spoke at the plea hearing presided over by Judge G.W. Abernathy.
In explaining the family’s willingness to support a plea deal that brought a more lenient sentence, Page told Stevens, now 22: “We have been young, too. And you make mistakes when you are young.”
Roger Smith Jr., the Raleigh attorney representing Stevens, said his client was remorseful.
Prosecutors said Stevens was at a party the night before her 21st birthday. People who saw her that night told investigators she appeared heavily intoxicated. A text message on her phone, investigators said, suggested she planned to drink herself into a coma.
It was shortly after midnight when the collision occurred at the heavily traveled intersection in North Raleigh.
Tyler and Stevens were transported to WakeMed, where Tyler died, forever altering the lives of his family and friends.
“You have taken away something from them,” Abernathy told Stevens in court, “yet they have given you a gift.”
Assistant District Attorney Jason Waller said the family was disappointed that Stevens outwardly showed little remorse during the hearing.
As has become a tradition in Wake County Superior Court in fatal drunken-driving cases, prosecutors also insisted that part of the sentence require Stevens to return to jail for a one-day stay on the anniversary of the incident while she is on probation.