NORMAN, Okla. — A Newalla woman will serve seven years in prison for leaving the scene of an accident that left the victim wheelchair-bound.
Misti Dawn Miller, 40, also received a 10-year suspended sentence from Cleveland County District Judge Lori Walkley on the misdemeanor charge of causing an accident without a valid driver's license. The 10 years of probation will start after Miller is released from prison, the judge ordered.
In a unique twist during the sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Pattye High requested the judge order Miller to be incarcerated at the county jail on the anniversary of the accident. Walkley complied with the suggestion.
In announcing her decision, Walkley told the defendant, "I am stunned by a lot of your behavior. You had no business getting behind the wheel. Your actions were grossly callous."
Miller, driving a 2010 Cadillace SRX, hit Bonnie Hughes as she was collecting her mail on May 21, 2018. Miller told the judge she was blinded by a glare and did not know she had hit Hughes until she stopped at a stop sign farther down the road at State Highway 9. She drove on and did not render aid to the victim.
Miller was traveling southbound on 180th Avenue NE when she hit Hughes who was crossing the street, according to an affidavit prepared by Norman police officer Ashlie Livingston.
Hughes suffered severe injuries including a fracture in the neck, a brain bleed, liver lacerations, internal bleeding and numerous cuts and bruises. Another driver, identified by the prosecutor as Christian Armstrong, stopped and called 911.
Hughes' husband, Jim Hughes, said he wanted the maximum punishment of 10 years in prison, but appreciated the judge's decision.
"I thought she was fair and the way she structured the sentence it's back in the defendant's court," he said.
Hughes, a Cleveland County attorney, said he didn't believe any of Miller's testimony or apology offered on the witness stand Thursday.
"She told similar things every time she has been in trouble. I think she's sorry she got caught," he said.
Miller has a criminal record including a four-year deferred sentence in 2005 for leaving the scene of an accident with injury in Oklahoma County. She also served federal prison time on an embezzlement conviction and has had her driver's license suspended two previous times. The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety reinstated her driver's license three days before the accident.
In her comments to the judge, prosecutor High said, "You can't hide what happened to Bonnie Hughes. You can't hide the damage to the car."
As the prosecutor showed photographs of the victim and her husband to the judge, she said, "There will be no more dancing. There will be no more going on vacation with her husband and walking in the ocean because she can't walk anymore. And why is that? Because Ms. Miller came in hot and ran over her."
Jim Hughes testified his wife's short-term memory has been affected and she's lost her sense of smell.
Still, he remained optimistic about his wife's recovery.
"We're not giving up on the idea she we will someday sail again and dance again," he said, referring to their many sailing trips.
Jim Hughes was adamant during his victim impact statement that Miller serve the maximum prison term.
"She (Miller) will say anything or do anything. She's escaped everything she's ever done. What does it take? Does she have to kill somebody before she's held accountable for her actions. Give her what she deserves," he told the judge.
The victim's daughter, Christina Bautista, told the judge during her victim impact statement, "I thank God every day for sparing her life. Yet, I still feel sorrow, anger, resentment and denial for this unjustifiable act that has taken away her quality of life."
Defense attorney Scott Adams pleaded with the judge to show mercy on his client since she is the sole caretaker of her disabled mother and grandmother.
"She wasn't sure what she hit," he told the judge. "She just panicked. Out of complete foolishness, she left."
Miller called Adams the night of the accident and turned herself into Norman police the next day.
"To Ms. Miller's credit, she did come forward," the attorney said.
Adams requested the judge use her "judicial discretion" and sentence the defendant to weekends in jail so she could continue caring for her family members.
During the defendant's testimony, she apologized to the victim and her family.
"There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about you and Jim," she said. "From the bottom of my heart, I would never hurt anybody intentionally. Our lives both changed that day forever."
In her closing statement, High told the judge she could not imagine allowing the defendant to "remain in this community with her record."