UNION — Matthew Fain will spend the next 12 years in prison for a 2011 collision that killed two men.
Fain, 27, of 620 Evans St. in Whitmire, was sentenced Wednesday in General Sessions Court by Judge Eugene Griffith of Newberry to 15 years in prison on each of two counts of felony DUI resulting in death. The sentence was suspended to 12 years in prison, 36 months probation and 200 hours of public service.
Fain pleaded guilty in March to the May 19, 2011, collision that killed Toy Edwin Grady, 67, 4198 Cross Keys Highway in Union, and James Anderson Jeter, 60, 5427 Cross Keys Highway in Enoree. The accident occurred around 6:50 a.m. on S.C. 49 about 6.5 miles west of Union.
Grady was pronounced dead at the scene while Jeter, his passenger, was taken to Spartanburg Regional Medical Center. He died at Spartanburg Regional Hospice Home on June 20, 2011.
Fain suffered a broken bone in his right foot, a crushed left elbow, a broken upper femur in his left leg, and severe internal damage. At Wednesday’s hearing, Fain’s attorney, Chris Mills, pointed out that Fain is still suffering from his injuries and asked that Fain be allowed to serve his sentence at a S.C. Department of Corrections medical facility. Griffith agreed to recommend it in his sentence.
Due to his injuries, Fain was not arrested at the time of the accident but was taken to Spartanburg Regional Medical Center. In presenting the facts of the case Wednesday, Deputy Solicitor John Anthony said blood could not be drawn from Fain at the scene for testing due to his injuries.
Anthony said a blood test at the hospital indicated his blood alcohol level was .218. However, Anthony said that if the sample been sent to the State Law Enforcement Division for analysis, the process used by that agency would have indicated a blood alcohol level of .184.
Anthony also pointed out that a reconstruction of the accident by S.C. Highway Patrol MAIT investigators determined that Fain’s vehicle was traveling at 65 mph in a 55 mph zone while the vehicle the victims were in was traveling at 35 mph. He said empty beer cans were found around Fain’s vehicle and that it had crossed over into the lane the victims were in and hit the side of their vehicle.
Mills said it was uncharacteristic of his client to drink and drive. He said Fain had learned he and his fiance were going to have a child and sought a higher-paying salaried position with his employer. Mills said Fain and his employer had driven around looking at the routes Fain would be responsible for in such a position.
He said they went to eat and Fain began consuming alcohol in large amounts, which Mills said was unusual for him. Mills said Fain accepts full responsibility for what happened. He said that Fain has not consumed alcohol since that time.
When Fain was released from Spartanburg Regional, he was placed under house arrest by Union County Magistrate Jimmy Crocker. Mills said the house arrest had been instrumental in Fain’s recovery because it enabled him to witness the birth of his son Olin and bond with the child. He thanked Anthony and the families of the victims for allowing that to happen.
Mills said Fain, who entered the courtroom walking with a cane, still suffers from his injuries which causes difficulty sleeping and requires the use of prescription pain medication. Mills said Fain would not be permitted access to that medication if he is sent to prison and that would make his medical situation more complicated.
In addition, Mills pointed out that Fain has also become a father to his fiancee’s 5-year-old daughter.
Mills asked that the court give Fain a lesser sentence of 10 to 15 years suspended to three to five years in prison with an extended period of probation and a substantial period of public service. He said that public service would involve lecturing at schools about the dangers of drinking and driving, adding Fain would be effective because of his acknowledgement of what he had done and because of his physical condition.
Fain’s fiancee, Ashley Hutchins, and his mother, Bridget Fain, spoke on his behalf. Hutchins said he was the only father her children had, and his mother, like Mills, pointed out that the accident was out of character for him. While asking the court to temper justice with mercy, both women expressed sympathy for the families of the victims. Hutchins said she knew how they felt because she had lost two friends in a wreck. Bridget Fain recalled how the families of the victims reached out to her and her family with one of them saying they were praying for her son to pull through.
Grady’s daughter, Nicole Harmon, also addressed the court. She said that as a Christian she could forgive Fain, but she and her family nevertheless wanted him to receive the maximum sentence of 15 years, describing it as just.