Marine found guilty in crash that killed young mother

POSTED: 11:29 AM Jul 20 2011   UPDATED: 6:03 PM May 23 2013
JACKSONVILLE, ONSLOW COUNTY -

A Camp Lejeune Marine was found guilty of manslaughter in the July 2011 death of an Onslow County woman.

On Thursday, a jury found Garrett Michael Weaver, 23, guilty of involuntary manslaughter, reckless driving to endanger, failure to reduce speed, failure to stop at a red light,and failure to yield right of way. He's sentenced to a minimum of 16 months in prison with a maximum of 20.

On July 20, 2011, just after 7 a.m., Weaver ran a red light on Bell Fork Road and hit Myrna Gabriel-Parks' Nissan Sentra, Jacksonville Police said. Parks was transported to Vidant Medical Center, where she died from severe head, neck and pelvic trauma, according to the medical examiner.

Among the first responders, eye witnesses, investigating officers and others who testified, one of the most emotional testimonies was from the victims' husband, Timothy Parks. He is a Camp Lejeune sergeant who was deployed when he heard about the accident.

"It was our anniversary," Parks said of the day he lost his wife. "I told her I'd do something special."

Parks and his wife had met exactly 10 years before.

Floyd Mowell saw the accident happen. He said Weaver actually sideswiped another vehicle before the wreck because he drifted left of center. Mowell said Weaver drove back into his lane, maintained control for a little while longer, then ran the red light. That was when the crash happened, Mowell said.

"I looked through his passenger side window and asked if [Weaver] was okay," Mowell said. "He seemed to be fine, but was confused, didn't know what happened."

Weaver was then taken to the Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Around the time of the accident, Parks had planned to video chat his wife.

"She just never came on," Parks said. "I thought she was busy with the kids or something."

Both of Weaver's defense attorneys, Bryan Smith and John Ceruzzi, motioned for Judge Jack Jenkins to dismiss. But the judge denied their request. Their argument was that Weaver had "blacked out" during the accident and couldn't remember what happened. Therefore, there was no intent or negligence.

Prosecutor Mike Maultsby disagreed and argued that Weaver was mostly in control of his vehicle and had run a red light. The judge upheld that charge.

Maultsby said Weaver was previously charged with DWI because he had told an officer that he had taken a pill. A State Crime Lab analyst said he found traces of Zoloft, an antidepressant, in Weaver's blood. But that is not a controlled substance and wouldn't have impaired Weaver, the analyst said.