Man who ran over deputy gets 20 years|[1/7/06]

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 9, 2006

The man convicted of driving a car that struck and seriously injured Deputy Sheriff Mike Hollingsworth nearly a year ago will serve up to 15 years in prison.

Ronald Vaughn, 25, was sentenced by Circuit Judge Isadore Patrick, who imposed a 20-year sentend with five years suspended. After release, Vaughn will serve five years’ post-release supervision.

The maximum possible sentence on Vaughn’s conviction of aggravated driving under the influence of a controlled substance was 25 years, which Assistant District Attorney Mike Bonner sought.

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Hollingsworth and family members were in the courtroom for the sentencing, but did not comment afterward.

A jury convicted Vaughn on Nov. 30, and Patrick then ordered a presentencing report by the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

Vaughn had been in county custody since he was arrested Feb. 9, 2004, at the scene of Hollingsworth’s injuries, on U.S. 80 in front of Green Acres Memorial Park, where the deputy was directing funeral traffic.

After his injuries, Hollingsworth was treated and rehabilitated for what his doctor described at the trial as a serious brain injury. He also had knee surgery.

Vaughn had previously been convicted of a drive-by shooting. He was sentenced in 1999, served one year of a three-year sentence and was on post-release supervision when Hollingsworth was injured.

Patrick told Vaughn, who was represented by attorney Eugene Perrier of Vicksburg, that he considered Vaughn’s prior conviction, the fact that he was on probation and &#8220what was found in your car and in your system.” Vaughn admitted and toxicology tests showed that he was under the influence of illegal drugs when his car struck Hollingsworth. Additional testimony during the trial was that a liquor bottle was found in Vaughn’s car. Tests for the presence of alcohol in Vaughn’s blood were negative, an expert witness testified.

About seven months after he was injured, Hollingsworth returned to duty at the sheriff’s department. Limitations on his responsibilities have been lifted as his recovery has progressed.

&#8220The court has spoken,” Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said when asked for his reaction to the sentence. &#8220We are pleased that the process is moving forward. And we are encouraged by Deputy Hollingsworth’s continued improvement.”