Hit-and-run driver sent to prison for 4 years

Published 12:29 pm Thursday, July 8, 2010

The hit-and-run driver who caused the death of a 19-year-old Port Gibson man in 2008 has been sentenced in Warren County Circuit Court to four years and nine months in prison.

Shelby Shay Sanders, 34, 3021 Woodvine Road, Lorman, was also assessed $5,322.50 in fines and court courts by Circuit Judge M. James Chaney on Tuesday.

Sanders had faced a maximum sentence of five years, said Assistant District Attorney Dewey Arthur.

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Sanders pleaded guilty June 24 to leaving the scene of an accident, admitting that he was the driver of the vehicle that hit Christopher Vinson on the night of Sept. 28 along a stretch of U.S. 61 South near the former Sonny’s Grocery.

Vinson had been in another car with his mother, whom police identified as Angie Bufkin, when the two argued and he got out of the car. Family members who returned to look for him discovered his body in the median around 9:05 p.m.

He was pronounced dead at the scene from head and body trauma.

Sanders was arrested a year and a day later. Arthur said a Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol officer found an abandoned car in Claiborne County that was traced to Sanders. A piece of bumper recovered at the accident scene was verified by the state crime lab as having come from the abandoned car, Arthur said.

After his arrest, Sanders was held on $75,000 bond in the Warren County Jail and indicted in January by the grand jury.

Court records show that Sanders, the father of four children, had been employed at Falco Chemical for several years.

Vinson lived at 3028 U.S. 61 North in the Claiborne County community and was an employee of Hercules Offshore Inc. Two dozen of his relatives and friends wrote victim impact statements to the court urging the maximum sentence be imposed on Sanders, for whom six people, including two local ministers, wrote urging leniency.

Arthur said subsequent to Vinson’s death, the state Legislature increased the sentencing guidelines for leaving the scene of an accident to 10 years. Sanders, who will be on probation for five years after his release, was not subject to the increased sentence.