SARA JANE KOCH A/K/A SARA KOCH A/K/A SARA J. KOCH APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 07/24/2015
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. LAWRENCE
PAUL BOURGEOIS JR. Judge
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY:
MOLLIE MARIE MCMILLIN
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
ALICIA MARIE AINSWORTH
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: JOEL SMITH
LEE, C.J., BARNES AND FAIR, JJ.
On March 25, 2013, Sara Jane Koch was indicted on two counts
of felony driving under the influence (DUI) causing death or
disfigurement. Count I charged aggravated DUIwhile Koch was
under the influence of intoxicating liquor pursuant to
Mississippi Code Annotated section 63-11-30(1)(a) (Supp.
2016). Count II charged aggravated DUI while Koch's
blood-alcohol content (BAC) was over .08% pursuant to
Mississippi Code Annotated section 63-11-30(1)(c) (Rev.
2013). A jury in the Harrison County Circuit
Court, Second Judicial District, found Koch guilty of
aggravated DUI. Koch was sentenced to twenty-five years, with
seven years suspended, eighteen years to serve in the custody
of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC), and five
years of postrelease supervision. Koch was also ordered to
pay $5, 750 in restitution. After her posttrial motions were
denied, Koch appealed, asserting the following: (1) the
indictment was defective; (2) the jury was not properly
instructed; (3) the trial court erred by allowing the
State's expert witness to give opinion testimony; and (4)
her conviction and sentence need clarification.
At 5:11 a.m. on February 1, 2012, Koch called 911 to report
that she had hit a pedestrian while driving on Interstate 10
in D'Iberville, Mississippi. She told the 911 dispatcher
that "someone was in my lane[, ] and I hit them[, ] and
I'm sure I killed them." At one point, Koch stated,
"[T]here was a car in the middle of the road that was
there, so I hit them." The 911 operator responded,
"So you say there was another car, and the person was
standing near the car?" Koch responded, "Yes, on
the side of the road."
D'Iberville Police Officer Kevin Sidaway arrived on the
scene around 5:15 a.m. Officer Sidaway testified he pulled up
behind Koch's car, and she was parked in the emergency
lane. Officer Sidaway stated he walked to the
passenger side of the car for safety purposes, and once Koch
had rolled the window down, he noted the smell of alcohol
inside the car. Officer Sidaway testified that Koch was
crying hysterically. He also stated that he did not drive
over any debris in the road while approaching Koch's car.
Another officer had arrived at the same time as Officer
Sidaway but parked further back.
Officer Kenneth Goins, a DUI-enforcement officer with the
D'Iberville Police Department (DPD), arrived at 5:23 a.m.
Officer Goins noted the smell of alcohol in Koch's car.
He testified that as he walked Koch to his patrol car, she
"was unsteady on her feet, kind of swaying and stumbling
a little bit." Koch was still crying. Officer Goins read
Koch her Miranda rights, arrested her, and transported
her to the D'Iberville police station. Officer Goins
obtained a warrant for a blood test, and Koch's blood was
drawn at a local hospital at 6:59 a.m. At some point, Koch
told Officer Goins that she had consumed five alcoholic
beverages prior to the accident.
Terry Hines, a captain with the DPD, arrived at the scene at
5:50 a.m. Captain Hines walked down the emergency lane,
noting the debris from the accident. Captain Hines noted that
no debris was found in the right lane of Interstate 10;
rather, debris was found in the emergency lane and in the
grass on the side of the interstate. According to Captain
Hines, the victim, Donald Sullivan, had been walking to work
when Koch struck him. Sullivan's body was found in the
grassy area approximately thirty or forty feet from the
emergency lane. During his investigation, Captain Hines
learned that Koch had been at the Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi,
Mississippi, prior to the accident. Captain Hines also
obtained a warrant to search Koch's cell phone.
Several hours after the accident, Koch called a friend from
jail. This call had been recorded and was played for the jury
during trial. Koch's friend asked her if Sullivan was
walking on the interstate or on the side. Koch responded,
"Apparently on the side. I don't remember
Donnie Dobbs, a detective with the Biloxi Police Department
(BPD), assisted the DPD with the data recovery from
Koch's cell phone. Detective Dobbs testified that Koch
had been exchanging text messages with someone Koch referred
to as "Brucie Boyfran." At 4:41 a.m., Koch sent
Brucie a text that said, "Driving. Go R [sic]." And
then at 4:42 a.m., she sent him another text that said,
"I'm f'd up." Koch texted Brucie several
more times and called him at 5:10 a.m. The duration of the
call was fifty seconds. The next outgoing call was the 911
call at 5:11 a.m. The last activity on Koch's phone ...