Crime

When she drove drunk a third time, this Harrison County woman killed another mom

Natalie Duvernay, 38, was sentenced to a total of 25 years in prison after she pleaded guilty this week to causing a death while driving drunk.
Natalie Duvernay, 38, was sentenced to a total of 25 years in prison after she pleaded guilty this week to causing a death while driving drunk. Courtesy of the Harrison County Adult Detention Center

One mother will leave three children for 18 years to serve a prison sentence, while the mother she hit and killed while driving drunk leaves behind four children.

Circuit Court Judge Lisa Dodson sentenced Natalie Duvernay, 38, to a total of 25 years in prison after she pleaded guilty this week to causing a death while driving drunk. Dodson suspended seven years of the sentence.

Duvernay would trade her life for that of the woman she killed, 30-year-old Iris Franklin, said Duvernay's attorney, Michael Crosby of Gulfport.

He said that Duvernay sat in jail before her plea, praying that God would take her life. While in jail, Crosby said, she was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. She has undergone a double mastectomy and is receiving chemotherapy, he said.

The night of April 21, 2017, her alcohol level was around three times the legal limit when she hit Franklin as Franklin tried to cross U.S. 90 in Pass Christian.

Crosby said that Franklin was driving drunk, too, and pulled out in front of Duvernay, who was going 70 miles per hour.

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"I truly believe she would trade places with the victim," Crosby said. He said his client longed to call Franklin's family and apologize, but he would not let her until the case resolved with her plea.

The accident was the third time Duvernay had been caught driving drunk. She apologized to Franklin's family in court during the plea hearing.

After the accident, Franklin was flown by helicopter to Memorial Hospital at Gulfport, where she was pronounced dead. Capt. Craig Necaise of the Harrison County Sheriff's Department reconstructed the accident, determining Duvernay's speed and that she apparently failed to brake, a news release from the District Attorney's Office says.

"Had the defendant been driving the speed limit, Capt. Necaise determined that it would have been more likely that an accident could have been avoided or that the victim’s injuries would not have been life threatening," said Assistant District Attorney Jason Josef, who prosecuted the case.

Duvernay also had been charged with felony malicious mischief in 2016, when the Pass Christian police said she caused $8,000 in damage by throwing bricks through a car windshield during a feud with another woman.

Anita Lee can be reached at 228-896-2331or @CAnitaLee1
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