Court to hear appeal in triple fatal DUI case

Published 3:46 pm Friday, June 27, 2008

The attorney for a woman convicted of causing a car crash that killed three Mississippi College students will argue before the state appeals court that she was not impaired while she was driving, but instead took drugs after the crash to calm her nerves.

The appeal of Krystal Marie Teston was supposed to be heard during the May-June term of the Mississippi Court of Appeals. However, water damage caused by a faulty sprinkler in the Supreme Court building, where oral arguments are heard, forced dozens of cases to be rescheduled. Arguments in the case were set for July 23.

Prosecutors said Teston, formerly of Slidell, La., was intoxicated on Lorcet, or hydrocodone, when she caused the Sept. 10, 2004 accident on Interstate 10 in Biloxi. Teston was convicted of four counts of felony DUI in 2007 in Harrison County and was sentenced to a total of 60 years in prison with 30 years suspended.

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Gulfport attorney Tim Holleman said Thursday he would argue, as the defense did in her trial, that Teston wasn’t impaired until after the crash.

“It was clear from the evidence that when the police officer first met her he testified there was no impairment whatsoever. An hour later, he said she was obviously slurring her speech. She told him that she had taken her medicine after the accident,” Holleman said.

Killed were Lindsay Miller; her boyfriend Maksim Sisoev, a foreign exchange student from Uzbekistan; and Elizabeth Finch, a Clinton native. Two others in the car were injured in the accident and recovered.

According to the court record, Teston’s attorneys contended she took the drug while a Biloxi DUI investigator left her unobserved.

In another case, the Appeals Court will hear arguments in the appeal of Lorenzo Tarver, who was convicted in 2006 in Leflore County and sentenced to 60 years for possession of more than 81 pounds of marijuana with intent to distribute.

Prosecutors had described Tarver as a major drug dealer.

Greenwood police had seized the pot while executing a search warrant at a home on June 18, 2004.

Under state law, the maximum penalty for possession of more than a kilogram of marijuana is 30 years in prison. A kilogram is 2.2 pounds.

Circuit Judge Ashley Hines doubled the maximum sentence of 30 years because Tarver’s house was within 1,500 feet of a day care center.

Prosecutors went ahead with the trial despite 90 pounds of marijuana disappearing from the Greenwood Police Department’s vault in April 2006. All but a few core samples of evidence marijuana in Tarver’s case was included in that missing batch, officials said.

Defense attorneys claimed Tarver shouldn’t have been tried without the evidence present.