JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. — A Jefferson County jury convicted a man Wednesday of three counts of involuntary manslaughter who was accused of driving drunk and striking a mother, father and their newborn baby in a car crash in April 2021.
The couple, Lacey Newton and Cordell Williams, left two other children, ages 2 and 4, behind.
David Thurby, 27, was originally charged with three counts of DWI resulting in death, operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner, marijuana possession and driving without insurance.
Cecelia Williams is now caring for her son’s children, Bentley now 6 and Mason now 4. She said she was happy with the jury’s decision, but wants the case to serve as a lesson for change on multiple levels including how police enforce DWI laws.
She said in this case, the trooper who handled the call was a rookie who she said made too many mistakes on the paperwork and while handling blood evidence. The jury did not convict Thurby of DWI.
“I know the DWI conviction was due to mistakes made on the Highway Patrol, so the jury had a decision to make and they did according to the law,” Williams said. “Unfortunately, a rookie was able to lead the case and he should not have been able to I don’t blame him for that, someone else should take over.
“I’m happy there is a conviction and extremely happy to see he was hauled away in handcuffs.”
Thurby's attorney, Travis Noble, said he was happy the jury did not convict his client on the DWI charges, which could have sent Thurby to prison for a maximum of 45 years.
"Obviously we would have preferred not guilty on all counts, but the fact that the jury found him not guilty of DWI causing a death and only on manslaughter second degree for his speed is a better alternative," he said.
With the involuntary manslaughter second-degree conviction, which is an E felony, the maximum sentence is four years in prison on each count with an option for probation.
Noble's client was driving 107 mph when he ran into the family's car.
"I’m happy the jury found him not guilty of DWI and can understand the jury’s verdict with involuntary manslaughter second-degree based on his speed," Noble said.
Williams is also pushing for legislation that would make drunk drivers liable for child support payments should their victims leave children behind.
“This case should give us an opportunity to make changes so there is no more mistakes for other families, and no more mistakes when it comes to paperwork when handling evidence and blood,” she said.
The maximum sentence on each count is four years, which means Thurby could get 12 years behind bars.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for March.
Williams said she was on her way home following the trial to tell her grandsons the good news.
“When the boys got up this morning, Bentley saw (Arbury’s) picture on the news and said, ‘There’s the guy that killed momma, daddy and my baby.’ And I said, ‘That’s why Maw Maw is going to court today.' He asked, ‘Why is he not in jail? Did he escape?’ I told him there is due process of law.”
And now she said she’s going to tell him justice was served.