Local mom: "If he'd done time, he wouldn't have been on the road to kill my son"
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
A local mother is pushing for justice in the death of her son killed last Mother's Day weekend. Investigators say a drunk and/or drugged driver is to blame. Now, one year later, a grand jury has indicted him.
The crash happened last May on Rossville Boulevard. Police say a man diving under the influence drifted into oncoming traffic and struck a taxi, killing the driver.
A Hamilton County grand jury handed down an indictment on 35-year-old Christopher Hinnard this week, one year since investigators say he killed 45-year-old Allen Phillips.
Phillips' mother says she's relieved he's been charged, but worries he'll get what she considers another slap on the wrist.
"It never leaves. Not in the morning. Not at night. Not when I got to bed. I get up and walk the floor and the pain never leaves. It's always there," Elizabeth Wilhoit said.
As Mother's Day approaches, Elizabeth Wilhoit says the pain in her heart swells. It marks one year since her son, Allen Phillips was killed while driving on Rossville blvd.
A taxi driver, Phillips left his normal route in downtown Chattanooga to make a longer run to Chickamauga, Georgia. He told his dispatcher he needed the extra money to buy a nice Mother's Day gift.
"It's just more than I can bare," Wilhoit said.
Investigators say at that same moment Christopher Hinnard was driving under the influence, drifted into oncoming traffic and crashed into Phillips' van. He died on the scene.
"When I saw his record, I was devastated because he shouldn't have been on the road," Wilhoit said.
Court records show Hinnard pleaded guilty to DUI in 2000, 2006 and 2008. Each time he paid a fine, lost his license temporarily and was put on probation. Now he's charged again, but this time its in addition to vehicular homicide. It's something Wilhoit thinks stricter punishments in the past could've prevented.
"He paid some money and was able to walk and I don't know what's wrong with the justice system but it's got to be fixed," she said.
She says as long as she can walk, she'll be at Hinnard's trial. She has several health issues and was diagnosed with colon cancer a few months ago. Phillips lived with her and was her caregiver.
"He loved me so much and I loved him," Wilhoit said.
His nickname was "gentle giant." Without him there, she feels defeated, something she wants the accused to hear first hand.
"Christopher Hinnard didn't just kill my son. You've got to understand, he killed me too. He killed me too. I have not been the same. I will never be the same," she said.
Christopher Hinnard is due in court May 16th. Investigators told Wilhoit the process has taken almost a year due to a back log of toxicology reports at the state crime lab.