Mother questions justice system after DWI driver involved in deadly crash walks away
December 11, 2017 06:18 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Three years is a long time to process a tragic loss. It's also a long time to wait for justice and, unfortunately, one New Mexico family says justice never came.
Victoria Woolley wonders, “How?” How does a woman charged with vehicular homicide, aggravated DWI and reckless driving essentially walk away?
That's what happened last week when Dejohni Orndorff went on trial, before Judge Cindy Mercer in Valencia County, for 16-year-old Tanner Woolley’s death. Tanner's mother, Victoria, says the first curveball at trial came from the judge, who claimed it wasn't made clear enough who the victim was in the crash.
"Everybody knew exactly who she killed. Everybody," Woolley said. "You know his name was brought up in trial. Apparently, the witnesses when they interviewed with state police, they didn't state his name enough.”
Woolley says Orndorff’s attorneys also filed a motion regarding expert testimony from the office of the medical investigator. Since the person who performed her son's autopsy report no longer worked in the office, that testimony was thrown out, along with the vehicular homicide charge against Orndorff.
"She changed her plea to guilty for the remaining charges and the judge gave her 90 days probation, time served," Woolley said.
While Orndorff can walk away from this case, Woolley emphasized that Tanner didn't walk away from the crash. His mom says he was a straight-A student, popular, loved and great at riding motorcycles.
It’s something he was doing when authorities say Orndorff hit him while driving under the influence of alcohol.
Since the crash, Orndorff would pick up several charges, including drug possession, shoplifting, burglary and resisting an officer. They would all be dismissed, according to court records.
Three years later, Victoria Woolley sits in her home, angry. She is still asking, “How?”
How did the system fail her son? And would it fail again if it happened to somebody else?
“She'll do it again and nobody will do a darn thing about it until it happens to somebody... One of their kids at the District Attorney's office or the judge’s kid," she said. "Then they'll do something, and that's what's sad.
"Because Tanner mattered. Tanner mattered a lot, to a lot of people. He wasn't just a file that they can put back in a cabinet and close the door. He was a person."
Woolley said she is also upset with how her family was treated in court. She says they were not allowed to wear shirt or pins in memory of Tanner, and any cars with messages of support were asked to park across the street from the courthouse.
She has tried to reach the DA's office several times since Thursday and still hasn't received a call back. KOB also put in a call, but the office is closed on Sundays.
We will update this story if we get a response.
Updated: December 11, 2017 06:18 PM
Created: December 10, 2017 11:01 PM
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