HOLLY RIDGE, ONSLOW COUNTY - A man has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for a drunk-driving wreck that killed a 19-year-old woman in Onslow County.
Jacob Beitz, 31, of Hampstead in Pender County, also pleaded guilty to DWI and two assault charges Monday morning. He was sentenced to between 12-and-a-half and 15 years in prison for the murder and assault charges, and will then serve two years for DWI.
According to investigators, Beitz rear-ended a Nissan Altima on Highway 17 outside Holly Ridge in November 2011. Killed in that wreck was Jacinta Fisher, a 19-year-old college student from Onslow County who was sitting in the backseat.
Also in the backseat were two children: a 6-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy, police said. At last check, they were recovering from their injuries.
Fisher's mother, Tawanda Thompson, was driving that car when the wreck happened. She was not injured in the crash. On Friday, Thompson shared memories of her daughter.
"She was a special child," Thompson said. "She was a nice child. She was loving, and she was a people person."
Thompson added that she forgave Beitz for the wreck.
"We have to forgive, and not to drink and drive because you can make some mistakes that you can't change," Thompson said.
Investigators said Beitz was driving between 80 and 90 mph when he hit the Altima. Moments later, he also hit an SUV, according to police. Beitz tried to leave the scene and had to be tasered, investigators said.
At the time, Beitz had a pending DWI charge in Pender County and was driving on a revoked license.
Fisher was studying dentistry at Winston Salem State University, according to her family. She was a 2010 graduate of White Oak High School.
An alleged impaired driver is facing more charges Monday after causing a a wreck that killed a teenager, police said.
Jacinta Fisher, 19, was in the back seat of a Nissan Altima when Jacob Beitz rear-ended the Altima Saturday night, police said.
Fisher, of Maysville, died Sunday morning at a hospital. She was a 2010 graduate of White Oak High School.
The wreck happened on Highway 17 south in Holly Ridge at approximately 5:30 p.m. Fisher's mother, Tawanda Thompson, 42, was driving the Altima. Clementine Dudley, Fisher's grandmother, was in the front passenger seat.
"We were just going around and around," Dudley said of the moments after the impact.
Two children, a 6-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy, were in the back seat with Fisher. They were injured as well, but are recovering, police said. Only the three in the back seat of the Altima were injured.
"I was just saying, 'Lord, help my children, Lord help my children," Dudley said.
Fisher was attending Winston Salem State University, studying dentistry, Dudley said.
Fisher had asked to go to Wilmington to shop Saturday; that's where the family was going, Dudley said.
"We were... tending our own business, and [the driver] hit us like a ton of bricks," Dudley said.
"[Jacinta] is in the Lord's hands now."
Investigators said that the Altima was going about 45 miles per hour when it was hit. Beitz was driving between 80 and 90 mph when he hit the Altima, and moments later hit an SUV, police said. Police said Beitz tried to leave after police arrived, Holly Ridge Police said. Officers had to use a taser on him. Beitz has a pending DWI charge in Pender County and was driving on a revoked license.
In regards to Saturday's wreck, Beitz is now charged with felony death by motor vehicle, voluntary manslaughter, DWI, careless and reckless driving, aggressive driving, driving with an open intoxicant, and driving while license revoked, and assault with a deadly weapon, among other charges.
Beitz was in court on Monday, and is due back in front of a judge on Dec. 19.