She said she was sorry for driving drunk, but two children are without a father

Kaleigh Ann Dartez
Kaleigh Ann Dartez

Circuit Court Judge Lisa Dodson on Tuesday sentenced Kaleigh Ann Dartez, 21, of Long Beach to serve 13 years in prison for causing the death of a friend while driving under the influence of alcohol.

The accident north of Interstate 10 on Kiln-Delisle Road, broke the neck of Zack Whitfield, 21, also of Long Beach.

Harrison County sheriff’s deputies found Dartez wandering along the road at 3 a.m., Nov. 14, 2014, then located her car 60 feet off the roadway. Whitfield’s body lay near the car.

Her attorneys tried to convince jurors during a three-day trial that she was not driving. But the jury needed only one hour last week to convict her in the case.

Dartez tested three times over the legal blood-alcohol limit for driving.

Before sentencing, Dodson heard from Whitfield’s father, who said his son’s two young children will grow up without their dad.

Dartez also spoke, saying she was fond of Whitfield. She apologized to his family and said she plans to share her story with other young people so they will not drive drunk.

Dodson noted that Dartez had violated the conditions of her bond, which was revoked in February 2017 because she broke a court-imposed curfew and drank alcohol before trial.

Dodson said she hoped the sentence would serve as a deterrent for others tempted to drink and drive. When she is released from prison, Dartez must serve five years on probation.

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99