On the evening of November 15, 2017 so many lives changed forever. David Newell’s family and his fiancé would never hold him again. His fraternity brothers would never laugh with him again and a USC Community would mourn the loss of one of their own.
On the evening of November 15, 2017, 22-year-old David Newell was headed back to his apartment having finished his last exam at USC. On that same road speeding up behind David who was on his moped, was a man who was impaired after drinking alcohol, talking Xanax and smoking marijuana. David and his family were looking forward to spending Thanksgiving together in Maryland. Instead of a happy holiday gathering, David’s family would be surrounded by hundreds of loved ones on November 22, 2017, as David was laid to rest. Before sentencing, Rachael, David’s Fiancé described his burial in her Victim Impact Statement as “watching his mother tuck her son in for the very last time, securing him deep into the earth”.
On November 8, 2018, the drunk and drugged driver who took David’s life was sentenced to 25 years, suspended to 20 years. The likes of this sentence are not the norm for the state of South Carolina. We at MADD SC are hopeful that it will stand as a guide for fellow judges when sentencing in DUI cases. The family is grateful to Josh, Golson, Assistant Solicitor for the 5th Circuit who worked tirelessly to secure justice for David. They are grateful to Judge George McFaddin for handing down a sentence befitting the crime committed and one that the offender earned through his own actions.
Annette described her son, David in her impact statement that she read in court. “ How do I tell you about the little boy who was so sweet, so thoughtful, who wore neckties to any event he deemed special, who grew into the considerate, hysterically funny, incredibly intelligent young man – so much so that he was invited into the PEAC academic program at his high school, only the top 25 in the class are invited, to take Physics and an AP course in 9th grade! A young man who was helpful. painting his grandmother’s living room for her, coming down to USC with me to fix up his sister’s new college house rental, serving meals at the shelter, a friend to all. David knew to help others in his community. When David was little we took dinner every Thursday night in the summer to the homeless shelter near our home. When David was in college he and Rachael took time from their New Year’s Eve plans to prepare and serve dinner for 200 homeless people in our community. Looking out for others, David was a giver he was happy to help. David was a strong supporter of his friends. He was funny, darn funny. In middle school, he declared his career goal was Head Writer for Saturday Night Live, Then he decided he wanted to make money and majored in business. He joked around a lot but when he was serious he was serious. He was an excellent writer. He could substantiate his argument well and he was serious about drinking and driving. We had experienced such a loss in our community, as you know, a devastating loss but before that happened, years before that, David wrote, in his careful 5-year-old handwriting, this pledge, in first grade, promising he would not drink and drive. When David was in college, the last speech he wrote was a policy speech about the perils of drinking and driving, noting that South Carolina has one the highest rates of drunk driving incidents in the country. He directly stated in his speech how close this issue was to him. He knew not to do this, but even though David knew these things, even though David was careful and took appropriate precautions, he couldn’t have known that CJ. Davenport would choose not to. Double the legal limit for alcohol. Excessive speed – Excessive. Double the speed limit, driving a heavy truck, uphill, 70-75 miles per hour.”
David’s family made the selfless decision to donate his organs. She holds as a priceless possession a glass stone that displays his thumbprint. In her statement, Annette said, “e.e. cummings wrote: I carry your heart I carry it in my heart. I literally carried David’s heart when I was pregnant with him. Somebody else carries David’s heart now. Someone I don’t know. I don’t know who and I don’t know where, where my son’s heart is, walking around out there Somewhere. Someone has it. All I have is this necklace with his name and 8092 on it, the number of days David was alive, and this, his thumbprint. And I have the memory of the last time I saw my baby boy, an image burned forever in my mind. And I want to share that image with the court, with CJ, and with his family, I think it’s important that he see what he did. Look at what you did to my baby boy. Look at what you did to David. My heart is forever broken”.