“Something needs to be done to send a message to these people who drink and drive that hard consequences will follow their actions, and you can’t continue to do it over and over again,” said Sherri Davenport Baldwin, the distraught Adairville mom who recently saw the name of the man responsible for her son’s death in the News-Democrat & Leader after he had been arrested for driving under the influence.
Baldwin said she cannot believe he is “out doing it again,” after serving 10 years of a 20-year sentence for murder. She said she cannot believe he would ever get behind the wheel intoxicated without remembering her son and what he did.
In 1992 Brian H. Holloway, then 32, was traveling north on 431 from Adairville to Russellville when he struck the vehicle which held Baldwin, her 9-month old son Justin, her 2-year-old son Phillip, her 12-year-old sister Kelly and her mother Jean Davenport – the driver of the vehicle.
“We were stopped waiting for a car to turn and all of a sudden there was a loud noise and then spinning and fire,” said Davenport. “It all happened xxso fast. The car was full of fire.”
Davenport managed to pull her family out of the flames, receiving second and third degree burns all over her body while doing it.
Baldwin says she cannot remember the accident, but she can remember waking up for a brief moment at the scene and crying out for Justin.
“They kept telling me he was all right, but they were talking about Phillip and didn’t know I was talking about Justin. They didn’t even know there was another baby in the car,” said Baldwin.
It wasn’t until later that emergency personnel found baby Justin, who was unrecognizable from his burns, laying several feet from the car after he was thrown from the vehicle.
Baldwin said she woke up at the hospital calling for her children. She said it wasn’t long before her husband came into the room to tell her their son was dead.
“I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. Not my baby. I had tried to be a good mother. I had tried to do everything right. Why was God punishing me, I thought,” said Baldwin.
The next 10 years, Baldwin went through a private hell. She wouldn’t speak of the incident to anyone and still keeps it bottled up inside.
“Even after a year I would wake up and think I was dreaming the whole thing. I would go looking for Justin in the house and then realize it was real,” she said.
Holloway plead guilty to murder, two counts of first degree assault and five counts of first degree wanton endangerment in March 1993. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the death of Justin and the injuries of the others. He was released on parole in 2002.
Davenport wasn’t expected to walk again after the crash and her daughter Kelly wasn’t expected to live. Baldwin and her son Phillip were severely injured as well.
“Brian (Holloway) wrote my husband and I a letter after he went to jail,” said Baldwin. “He seemed very sorry for what he had done and said he would never forget about Justin or forgive himself for what had happen. If that were true then how can he drink and get behind the wheel again? Who is he going to kill next? Will it be my other son who is now 19? Will it be someone else’s son?”
On Sept. 9 of this year Holloway was stopped at a safety checkpoint on the same road that the crash occurred, which took the life of Justin over 17 years ago.
According the citation from the Russellville Police Department, Holloway had a strong odor of alcohol emanating from his person.
Officers performed a standardized field sobriety test (SFST) on Holloway as well as a preliminary breath test, which showed Holloway had a blood alcohol content of .093 and .096. According to Kentucky law anything below .08 in not considered legally intoxicated.
According to the citation, during the SFST Holloway had to put his foot down at two seconds while using his hands to balance himself. He also stepped off the line several times and lost his balance.
When Holloway was arrested and taken to the Logan County Detention Center, he was given another breathalyzer test, where he blew a .076. According to Kentucky law, the PBT test in the field is only used as an investigative tool and cannot be used in a court of law; however, the SFST can be used.
Holloway appeared in district court Friday, Oct. 29 on a charge of drunk driving as well as failure of owner to maintain required insurance.
Baldwin, her mother and sister attended the hearing and were appalled that a deal between Holloway’s attorney, Stewart Wheeler, and the county had been made probating Holloway’s charges.
“I was furious,” said Baldwin who jumped up at the hearing and went to tell Logan County Attorney Tom Noe about what Holloway had done to her baby 17 years ago.
After hearing from Baldwin, Noe took the deal off the table and rescheduled the case for a jury trial December 2.
“What happen 17 years ago is terrible,” said Noe, “but it doesn’t have a bearing on the case at hand.”
According to Kentucky law, a person’s past offenses cannot be brought up in court during the prosecuting phase, which is set to protect an individual from having their past possibly sway the jury on a current charge.
There are certain felony cases where a bifurcated trial will allow a person’s past offenses to be introduced during the sentencing phase after they have been found guilty, but not in a DUI first offense which is considered a misdemeanor. According to Noe, a bifurcated trail can be used in a DUI second, third or fourth offense within a five year period – but not in Holloway’s case because it has been over five years since his last DUI offense.
Holloway’s attorney said he will do everything he can to assure his client is acquitted of the recent charges against him.
“I feel terrible for what happen to the Baldwin and Davenport family and at the time of the hearing I didn’t know this had happened,” Wheeler said. “But it does not have any relevance to this current charge. He wasn’t intoxicated and I will do all I can to defend him.”
Noe said he feels Holloway was intoxicated and will try to get a jury to convict him on the maximum sentence, which is a 90-day suspended license and 30 days in jail.
As far as Baldwin is concerned, that is not enough.
She said she knows the laws are set and she cannot change them, but she feels there is injustice in letting a person continue behavior that took one life already and could possibly take more in the future.
“There isn’t a day that goes by I am not haunted by that crash,” said Baldwin. “There isn’t a day that I don’t miss my son. It has literally ruined my life and the lives of my family and even though I have forgiven Brian for what he did to my son – because someday I want to see Justin again – I cannot condone what he is doing now. God help him and God help us all.”