Man gets life sentence in crash that killed Montgomery Co. sheriff

The man accused of causing a wreck that killed the Montgomery County Sheriff two years ago was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday.

A Bleckley County jury today convicted Jim Lowery of seven charges in the death of  Sheriff Ladson O'Connor.

According to District Attorney Tim Vaughn, he was convicted of felony murder for leading law enforcement officers on a chase that night through Toombs and Montgomery County.

O'Connor lost control of his car, hit a tree and died off Highway 56 in Uvalda, Montgomery County.

Lowery was also convicted trying to kill a Montgomery County deputy, a state patrol trooper and a Mount Vernon police officer after he fired shots at the officers during the late-night chase.

Lowery's lawyers argued that O'Connor himself may have contributed to the accident by drinking before the case.

Vaughn dismissed that argument, saying O'Connor had been drinking at home before the case, which started around 9:30 p.m., but was not drunk.

He said Lowery was driving dangerously and putting the officers in peril even before O'Connor joined the chase, he said.

 "In the video we showed, you saw how erratic and crazy Mr. Lowery was driving and shooting at the officers," he said.

O'Connor joined the chase because the three officers already involved were the only ones on duty in that remote area, he said. 

"The sheriff was not DUI, he was doing what you would hope a sheriff would do. He was aiding his men," said Vaughn.
 
Vaughn says Lowery will be eligible for parole in 30 years.

Also convicted was Dixie Best, who was riding with Lowery on the night of the chase.

She was found guilty of attempted murder, aggravated assault, and fleeing and attempting to elude. She received a 25-year sentence in state prison, and will serve at least 25.

The Bleckley County jury deliberated for around nine hours before returning their verdict Tuesday afternoon.

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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