Man charged in fatal DUI free to drive - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Man charged in fatal DUI free to drive

July 14, 2006

Leesburg--  A man with a history of drunk driving, recently charged with three counts of vehicular homicide is now out of jail. But the conditions of his release may not prevent him from driving again.

Investigators say 38-year-old Michael Littleton lost control of his pick-up last month on Ledo Road and hit a car head on. 17-year-old Nathaniel Wood and husband and wife Charles and Kelly Caldwell were killed. A 6-year-old boy was seriously injured. Littleton was released from the Lee County jail on a $100,000 cash bond. It came with special conditions but not one that keeps him from driving.

On June 28th, 3 people were killed in a drunk driving crash.  It's a scene Lt. Tommy Jackson of Dougherty County Police knows too well. "A DUI fatatality or the result of someone drinking and driving, the worst thing about that is that it's totally preventable," says Jackson.

Something preventable that 38-year-old Michael Littleton didn't avoid more than once. He had DUI convictions in 1995 and 1997. Now, he's charged with three counts of vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.

"Everbody is presumed innocent until proven guilty in court but he has two prior convictions and obviously those two prior convictions didn't stop him from committing this act," says Jackson. And these new charges didn't stop him from getting back behind the wheel.  His bond has special conditions including no contact with the victims of the crash and their families and no use of alcohol or drugs but there are no bond conditions preventing him from driving.

"I can't see how someone like that can be back out on the street and able to operate a motor vehicle," says Jackson. Lee County District Attorney Cecilia Cooper told WALB by phone that Magistrate Court Judge Jim Thurman did have the option of ordering Littleton not to drive. Given Littleton's record, that's something she says prosecutors may have asked for but no one from her office was at the bond hearing. She said, "It's been my experience that Judge Thurman makes good decisions."

Dougherty Assistant DA Greg Edwards says tougher DUI laws are in effect now and drunk drivers are paying the price with sentencing. "We hope that the judges have enough flexibility with the current sentencing system such that they can deal appropriately with sentencing based on the facts of that situation," says Edwards.

If convicted, it will now be up to a Superior Court judge to decide Littleton's sentence and if he'll keep his license. "It greatly concerns me that someone is able to get out there after a third DUI, well a third known DUI," says Jackson.   Some still question if the DUI laws are fair.

If any evidence shows that Littleton violates any of the conditions of his bond, the district attorney's office would move to revoke that bond. We tried to talk to talk to Judge Thurman about his ruling but he said it would be improper for him to make any comment about an ongoing case.

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