East Carolina University student Elizabeth Ann “Lizz” Griffiths died when a Ford F-250 pickup truck crossed the centerline and crashed head-on into her Honda Accord two years ago.
The driver of the pickup truck, Mitchell Grey Wilkerson, now 19, was originally charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle.
But in a Greenville courtroom Wednesday, prosecutors accepted an agreement that allowed Wilkerson to plead guilty to driving while using a cellphone and pay a $25 fine.
Griffiths’ mother, Sharon Carter of Raleigh, was thunderstruck. She wondered if the court thought her daughter’s life was worth only $25.
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“I was tearful,” Carter said Friday. “I’m disappointed, very disappointed.”
Wednesday’s decision came after two mistrials in February and June, Carter said.
Carter said after the second trial an assistant district attorney suggested a plea bargain with a reduced charge of careless and reckless driving.
“I didn’t know what the punishment was until Wednesday,” she said.
The last time Carter saw Griffiths, 20, her youngest child and only daughter, was the day after Mother’s Day in 2013, a week before the accident.
“She was beautiful and had a glow,” Carter said. “She looked so beautiful that day.”
On the day she died, Carter said, her daughter mailed off a coffee mug inscribed with the words “World’s #1 Dad” to her father.
Carter says she has forgiven Wilkerson.
“For the rest of his life, he will have that guilt. That it was his careless and reckless behavior that took someone’s life,” she said. “In order for me to move on I have to forgive him.”