An Odessa man who killed two children from Warrenton and injured their parents when he drove drunk and barreled into their vehicle in a Labor Day 2016 crash on Interstate 70 pleaded guilty to murder and other charges in connection with the crash.
James Green, 61, pleaded guilty in Jackson County Circuit Court to two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of assault and DWI. He was sentenced to 25 years on each murder charge, seven years for each assault charge and four years for the driving with a suspended license – all to run concurrently.
According to court documents, Green was eastbound in a Cadillac Escalade on I-70 near the Adams Dairy Parkway exit when he hit a Hyundai Elantra from behind. The Elantra was stationary because of a backup caused by a separate crash that happened less than an hour earlier just east on I-70.
A 13-year-old boy and 7-year-old girl seated in the back seat of Elantra died at the scene. The children's father was paralyzed from the chest down because of his injuries, according to court documents. All family members had been wearing seat belts.
Green, who suffered minor injuries, was taken to the hospital, and a state trooper immediately smelled alcohol when he visited Green in the emergency room.
Green told the trooper he had been drinking before the crash – about three beers an hour before. “I had cruise control on. I was on my way home. I looked down at my phone to swipe to change the song. I did not look up. I was still looking down when the impact happened,” Green told the trooper, according to court documents.
Green failed a horizontal gaze test, and after he refused a breath test two blood draws were taken later. At the time, Green's driver's license was suspended for prior DWI convictions.