(Oxford, MS) Former Ole Miss student John Strickland left the Lafayette County Courthouse and headed to prison, where he will spend the next 12 years for the DUI death of two other students.
Almost a year ago, he reportedly crossed the center line on a highway 6 overpass, hitting and killing Sarah and John Wheat.
His guilty plea was little comfort to the Wheats’ mother.
"Oh my God… Oh my God. How…how do you… how do you say goodbye to your children?"
She testified in court about the loss of her children in a sentencing hearing, but in the end, Judge Andrew Howarth gave Strickland 25 years in prison, 13 years suspended, and five years probation.
He must complete a rehab program during his prison term.
”I respect the judge and what he handed down. In my heart, in my world, I think he deserved more time,” said Frances Wheat.
But this case seems far from over.
The only item left unresolved is the status of a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Strickland.
The Wheat family would not say if they intend to follow through with that case.
Strickland’s family told me they were equally devastated by what happened, and he was, at heart, a good young man.
But prosecutors made the case he had an addiction problem, and four illegal substances in his blood the night of the accident.
"Does this give me any closure at all? No, no. You don’t have two of your children in a grave and it’s closure,” Wheat explained.
It’s fair to say neither family will ever find closure in this case.