ST. LOUIS COUNTY • Ricky R. Weeden Sr., whose criminal history includes about 150 arrests for drunken driving, reckless driving, speeding, driving without a license and failing to show up for court, can now add involuntary manslaughter and fleeing the scene of a fatal crash to his record.
Weeden, 56, struck a plea deal with prosecutors and was sentenced Friday to five years in prison in the October 2012 crash in Pagedale that killed Traye-shon Williams, 4, and injured his brother, Jay'Shard, then 10 years old.
St. Louis County Circuit Judge Joseph L. Walsh III accepted Weeden's pleas of guilt to involuntary manslaughter, leaving the scene of a crash and driving with a revoked license. Weeden had been charged with second-degree murder (also called felony murder) and assault.
Weeden will receive credit for the 20 months he has already spent at the St. Louis County Jail on charges related to the incident.
Weeden's record includes at least 11 DWI arrests, including six that resulted in convictions. Weeden had served fewer than two years in prison for his DWIs despite state laws that say chronic offenders with at least three DWI convictions could see up to 15 years in prison.
Weeden's record is an example of how DWI offenders routinely avoid felony charges in the St. Louis region through deals made in municipal courts and where prosecutors and judges let persistent drunken drivers escape convictions.
The Missouri Highway Patrol investigated the crash about 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5, 2012, that left Traye-shon dead and Jay'Shard injured. The patrol said Weeden kept driving after hitting the brothers with his GMC Sierra pickup as they crossed St. Charles Rock Road. Traye-shon died at the scene. His brother suffered leg injuries.
Police later found Weeden's pickup truck and tied it to the crash. He was was charged three days after the crash.
Ed Magee, a spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, said prosecutors agreed to a plea deal because of problems with witnesses. One refused to testify against Weeden. Another had credibility problems because of his criminal history. Magee said the Highway Patrol's investigation gave no evidence that Weeden was intoxicated and said darkness and wet road conditions could have factored into the crash.
"This was basically the best result we could hope for," Magee said.
Weeden's lawyer, Nick Zotos, said the plea deal was "a fair resolution for Mr. Weeden" based on the evidence.
"The accident reconstruction said it would have been hard to avoid the accident," Zotos said. "Whatever anyone suspects, there was no evidence of alcohol."
At the time of his arrest, Weeden had not driven a car legally in almost 20 years, after his drivers license was revoked in April 1993. He was also involved in a 1983 crash in St. Louis that killed two people, but was never charged with manslaughter. The victims were Avance Wilson, 23, and Doris Ann Jones, 20. Two others survived that wreck.
The boys' mother filed a civil suit in 2012 against Weeden, which said Jay'Shard would need expenses for ongoing medical treatment. The lawsuit was settled out of court, records say.
©2014 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Visit the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at www.stltoday.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services