NORMAN — Patricia McDoulett hopes she can move on now. More than a year after the death of her daughter, she may finally be able to do that.
A Cleveland County District Court jury on Thursday found Mark Allen Peters, 54, guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the death of Safari McDoulett, 36. The trial lasted two weeks and Patricia was there every day, sitting on the front row waiting for her daughter to get justice.
“It’s been a nightmare,” McDoulett said. “An absolute nightmare. I’ve tried to be real strong and brave for our huge family. It’s not an easy thing to do. But it’s been one of the most difficult things I ever did besides losing Safari.”
The jury deliberated for about two hours before finding Peters guilty in the State Highway 9 traffic death on Feb. 20, 2012. It took them another three hours to sentence him to 38 years in prison on the manslaughter charge. He also was found guilty of possession of a controlled, dangerous substance and obstructing an officer.
“It was somewhat unexpected,” Peters’ attorney, Charles E. Douglas said. “We had spent two weeks in trial, the state had over 100 exhibits and 20-plus witnesses. I was surprised they didn’t spend a little more time. But I am not being critical of them. I learned long ago not to criticize jury verdicts. They got to hear all the evidence and it was a tough case.”
The defense rested without calling any witnesses. In his closing arguments, Douglas attempted to convince the jury that reasonable doubt surrounded whether Peters was under the influence on the day of the fatal wreck. Peters was found with a prescription pill bottle containing hydrocodone and Diazepam 5mg.
“Being a juror isn’t supposed to be easy or make you popular,” Douglas said during his closing arguments. “My client can’t get a fair trial if you let sympathy, sentiment or prejudice enter into the deliberations. The system doesn’t work. This case is about reasonable doubt.”