In November 2012, Sherri Lynn Wilkins, age 53, left her substance abuse counseling center and struck and killed 31 year-old, Philip Moreno. Moreno was left dying on the hood of Wilkins's car while Wilkins drove 2 additional miles. Citizen motorists swarmed her car and blocked her movements before the police arrived. Wilkins was convicted of Second Degree Murder, DUI, and Hit and Run. She was sentenced to 55 years to life in prison.
Wilkins admited she used alcohol to self-medicate while awaiting knee surgery.
Like many drug addicts that claim to be reformed and in recovery, she used her life experiences in her work as a drug and alcohol counselor. Yet, she appears to have been a hypocrite who still abused alcohol while counseling people to abstain.
Most people convicted of DUI are required to attend court-ordered substance abuse counseling, the same counseling Wilkins was “providing.”
Many substance abuse counselors are admitted “former” drug or alcohol abusers that later drank the Kool-Aid of self-improvement and reform. I am certain most are successfully in recovery and can use their experience to help others.
However, I have received many calls over the years from substance abuse counselors accused of alcohol and drug related crimes. These are the same people that report my clients' counseling requirement progress to probation officers.
Also, these same counselors testify in court at my clients' probation violation hearings. The judge and prosecutor assume their testimony is 100% credible. It's extremely odd that the courts trust testimony of an admitted drug abuser, but courts do so when the testimony comes from a counselor rather than the accused.
This case perfectly spotlights a principle that few Georgia judges follow: all testimony should be deemed equally credible unless otherwise impeached. Our judges struggle with this legal principle every single day.
In fact, fellow attorneys regularly discuss situations where a judge trusted an officer over an accused. Why is this the case? Why is the police officer more credible? Why would a police officer be less like to lie than any other person?
I am trying to give our readers a little food for thought. Anyone, including those accused of a crime, should be believed unless his or her testimony is properly impeached.
If you have been accused of DUI in Metro Atlanta or DUI in North Georgia, call our office as soon as possible.