Prison Term For Fatal DUI Accident

WHEELING – John Hatfield, an Arkansas man who came to West Virginia as a gas driller, will remain in the state for two-to-10 years for killing Stephanie Stahl in an alcohol-induced accident.

Circuit Judge David Sims on Wednesday sentenced Hatfield to the prison term and ordered him to pay $10,000 in restitution for expenses involving the towing and storage of two vehicles involved in the crash.

At a Feb. 28 plea hearing, Hatfield admitted he blew 0.234 on an blood-alcohol content test in the early hours of Nov. 11, 2012, after he crashed his car into another vehicle, causing Stahl’s death.

Hatfield said was driving under the influence at 3 a.m. near the intersection of Cabela Drive and McCutcheon Road when he struck another vehicle occupied by Stahl and Nicole Grey. Both victims were taken local hospital, where Stahl died.

When given an opportunity to speak, Hatfield cried as he apologized to members of Stahl’s family.

The victim’s father, Ken Ward, struggled to hold his composure as he responded.

“I appreciate your apology,” Ward said. “But that doesn’t change the fact that you killed my daughter. I hope that you see my daughter every time you look into the eyes of your own family members.”

Sims expressed sympathy to the victim’s family.

“This case shows the tragic impact that drunk driving has on the community,” he told Hatfield. “Your family also is victimized by your actions.”

Sims followed a sentencing recommendation by Assistant Prosecutor Brian Ghaphery and defense attorney Paul Harris.

A grand jury indicted Hatfield for the felony offense of DUI causing death and a misdemeanor charge of DUI causing injury.

The plea agreement called for the lesser DUI charge to be dropped.