Without intending to be cruel to a woman who killed two doctors in a 2009 Jackson car crash, Gov. Phil Bryant should, in the final few weeks of office, stick to his policy of not granting pardons.
Karen Collins, who was married to businessman Stuart Irby when the crash occurred, has published legal notices saying that she has asked the governor to pardon her.
This crash seemed to be more tragic than most fatal accidents. The two young doctors in the other vehicle were engaged to be married. Collins, who was driving the couple’s car the night of the crash, said her husband attacked her while she was behind the wheel. Stuart Irby suffered brain damage and killed himself three years later.
Collins pleaded guilty to culpable negligence manslaughter in 2010 and got sentenced to 18 years in prison. But she has already received a major reprieve: In 2012, a few days before he left office, Gov. Haley Barbour released her from prison well ahead of schedule. He ordered her to serve three years of house arrest and another two years under the supervision of the Department of Corrections.
Collins completed her house arrest four years ago and presumably is no longer having to check in with a corrections officer. Given that she would be getting out of jail right about now without the break Barbour gave her, it’s difficult to see what else she reasonably expects Bryant to do.
All of us appreciate stories of redemption and second chances. But the facts are that the Irbys had been drinking before they got behind the wheel of their car, and their sedan hit the doctors’ pickup truck at 70 mph.
No matter what the extenuating circumstances, Irby was behind the wheel when the couple’s car crashed. There were serious and tragic results from this decision: Two people died that night and another died three years later.
This simply is not the sort of case that deserves a pardon. Hopefully Bryant will agree.