TACOMA, WA – Today Jayce Lee Damon Randall, 26, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and reckless endangerment in the death of his 9-year old nephew, Donovan Best. The court set the sentencing hearing for October 4, 2013.
The penalties for Vehicular Homicide were more than doubled in the 2012 legislative session after calls for stiffer sentences from Prosecutor Mark Lindquist and others. The current sentencing range for Vehicular Homicide is 78-102 months, increased from the former range of 31-41 months.
"Drugs, drinking, and driving lead to terrible tragedies like this," said Prosecutor Lindquist. "This family suffered a senseless and avoidable loss.”
On March 16, at about 1:00 a.m., the defendant left a family barbeque with his 9-year-old nephew Donovan Best, and his 8-year-old niece, T.K. Driving westbound on State Road 16, the defendant sped up as he exited onto Purdy Drive Northwest. His niece began crying, and asked her uncle to slow down. He lost control of his vehicle around the curve, crossed into the other lane of traffic, and then spun off the road. The vehicle struck a ditch, became airborne, and rolled at least once.
The defendant and his nephew were ejected from the vehicle. Both were only wearing the shoulder strap of their seatbelts. Donovan died from his injuries the next day. T.K., wearing a seatbelt, survived uninjured. The defendant, who suffered only minor injuries, admitted to smoking marijuana about an hour prior to the crash and drinking “too much.”
Kelly Kelstrup, Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office