HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. — Melandus Penson, the man charged in a deadly crash that killed two Briarcrest students in 2015, has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to 60 years in prison.
There was not dry eye in the courtroom today as friends and family of Maddie Kruse and Rachel Lynch gave statements remembering the teens.
The heart wrenching words from mothers, fathers and siblings even brought Penson’s family to tears.
It was hard day for the families who begged the judge to put Penson away for the full 120 years.
They shared heart breaking stories of the lives they say were stolen from them.
“The pain that I feel is so intense, knowing that I am never going to see her face again on this earth,” said Rachel’s mother Jennifer Lynch.
“They had done everything they could to revive her, but she did not make it,” said Maddie’s father Tedd Kruse. “Next, I remember the screams, the tears, and the embrace with Dawn. Telling the doctor, ‘We want to see her. We want to see our Maddie.'”
Kruse and Lynch’s parents had the entire courtroom sobbing.
“It was a gift for my 18th birthday to take my best friends to the beach with me,” remembered Carolin Kamm.
Two young lives cut short in a DUI crash last year, as the van full of girls headed out for a road trip.
Two other girls, Caroline Kamm and Kara Holden, and one of the girl’s grandmothers, Roxeanne Anderson, were all injured.
“To me, Rachel was my little girl, my baby, my peanut,” said Matt Lynch.
Speaking to the judge, family mourned for the futures their girls will never have.
“No first kiss. No falling in love. No wedding day. No family of her own,” said Kruse.
Even Penson’s godsister broke down on the stand.
“I have a 19-year-old son. So, I look at it from this side of the family and that side of the family.”
While Penson was given 60 years by the judge with another 60 suspended, the hard truth remains for the families that their loved ones will never be coming home.
“The pain in your heart is so strong, you start to wonder if you’re dying,” said Kruse. “Dying at this point seems like a pretty good option. At least then, we’ll be with Maddie.”
The families said their solace is in knowing Penson will never be allowed on the road again.