The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

March 8, 2013

Woman sentenced to up to 17 years in DWI fatality



A news story appearing in the Friday, March 8 edition of The Daily Southerner and headlined “Woman sentenced to up to 17 years in DWI fatality” contained inaccurate information.

The story stated an Edgecombe County jury returned a conviction of second-degree murder against Melissa Natasha Spellman on the previous Monday. The just returned the verdict the previous Tuesday.

The article also stated that Spellman ran a stop sign on Jamestown-Mercer Road on May 5, 2012. That incident, which led to her vehicle striking and killing motorcyclist Chris Taylor, occurred on May 12, 2012.

The Daily Southerner apologizes for the errors.

An Edgecombe County jury on Monday sentenced Melissa Natasha Spellman, 20, of Rocky Mount, to second-degree murder for an alcohol-related vehicle fatality involving a motorcyclist.

In the same case, Spellman was also convicted of driving while license revoked, reckless driving, and felony injury by vehicle. She was sentenced to 157 to 201 months in the Department of Correction for the second degree murder charges, 25-42 months for injury by vehicle and 45 days for driving while license revoked and reckless driving.

Superior Court Judge Walter Godwyn presided over the case, while District Attorney Robert Evans was the prosecutor. William Soloman was the defense attorney.

    Spellman reportedly was traveling on Jamestown-Mercer Road on May 5, 2012 when she ran a stop sign and crossed N.C. Highway 43. Chris Taylor was traveling north on a motorcycle when Spellman's vehicle crashed into him, resulting in his death. A passenger in Spellman's vehicle was seriously injured, but survived.

Spellman's alcohol level reportedly registered .40 – five times over the legal limit.

Because Spellman was found guilty of second degree murder, Godwyn did not sentence her on the DWI, explained a clerk at the Edgecombe County Courthouse. The clerk said Spellman could not be charged with both because of  double jeopardy.

This was not Spellman's first alcohol-related incident.

At age 17, she was charged with DWI on May 20, 2010. Spellman reportedly blew a .29 blood alcohol level at that time. According to court documents, Spellman pleaded guilty to that charge. Her sentence included, license revocation, fine and pay cost of court and attend substance abuse classes.