On March 29, Jennifer Nicole Willis, 38, of Vilas, plead guilty to one count of felony death by vehicle and four counts of felony serious injury by vehicle.
In May of 2014 Willis crossed the center line on U.S. 321 in the Sugar Grove community and plowed into a group of motorcyclists. Willis killed one motorcyclist, Alfredo Madrid of Miami, Fla., and seriously injured four other motorcyclists who were traveling with Madrid.
The group of motorcyclists were on vacation and traveling through Watauga County. Madrid’s son, Andres Madrid, was following behind his father and was an eyewitness to the fatal crash. A blood test revealed that Willis had a blood alcohol content of 0.12 percent. Additionally, two different types of prescription opioid medications were present in her bloodstream at the time of the crash.
The Honorable Alan Z. Thornburg, Superior Court Judge, sentenced Willis to serve an active sentence of a minimum of 5 years 7 months and a maximum of 8 years 10 months in prison. After completing her active sentence in prison, Willis will be placed on probation for an additional 5 years.
“This tragic case illustrates the dangers of abusing alcohol and prescription drugs,” District Attorney Seth Banks said in a statement. “A series of bad decisions by the defendant in this case turned a scenic motorcycle trip through our beautiful community into a nightmare for the victims and their families. On this day our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families as they continue to deal with grief that defies description. I would like to thank Assistant District Attorneys Penn Dameron and Sarah Garner for their diligence in seeing that Jennifer Nicole Willis was brought to justice. I would also like to thank the North Carolina Highway Patrol and the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office for their hard work in investigating this case.”