Lauren Nevil, 13, sat on a witness stand in a Hope, Ark., courtroom and talked about her ruined life without her mother, Katy Nevil.
Jimmy Brimson called the death of his 38-year-old sister a murder.
The Nevils were driving along a dark stretch of Interstate 30 near Hope on Nov. 16, 2012, when they were hit by a pickup driven by John David Coe, who was driving drunk.
Katy was killed and Lauren was severely injured.
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Coe, 36, recently received a string of sentences for the horrific wreck, which occurred as the Nevils were driving from their home in Franklin, Tenn., to visit family and friends in Arlington and Burleson for Thanksgiving.
Katy’s husband, Steve Neil, told Coe how he lives every day with a broken heart.
“My heart literally feels as though it is broken in half,” Steve Nevil said. “It’s a feeling that you simply can’t understand unless you experience yourself. I wish I could bottle it up and allow you to feel it for just one second so you can truly understand and possibly be properly remorseful.”
The emotional victim impact statements were given last week after Coe pleaded guilty to eight charges in a Hempstead County courtroom.
Coe, of Prescott, Ark., pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in Katy Nevil’s death and was sentenced to 40 years; one count of first-degree battery for the injuries caused to Lauren Nevil, 40 years; two counts of aggravated assault against Steve Nevil and son Will Nevil, 15 years on each count; two counts of aggravated assault on family or household members (his daughters were in his vehicle), 15 years on each count; possession of a controlled substance of less than four ounces of marijuana, one year; and possession of drug paraphernalia, one year.
The sentences will run concurrently.
Coe must serve at least 10 years before he’s eligible for parole, according to an Arkansas prosecutor.
“The defendant was sentenced to the maximum allowed by law for each of his eight offenses,” Christi McQueen, prosecutor in the Eighth North Judicial District in Arkansas, said in an email.
In addition last week, Coe paid $100,000 to the Lauren Nevil Special Needs Trust. She suffered a broken femur, collapsed lung, three broken ribs, a mutilated right foot and a traumatic brain injury.
Coe paid to show remorse for his actions to the Nevil family, according to the plea agreement. The agreement, however, noted that the payment was not to be considered as an effort to shorten Coe’s sentence or to mitigate it.
“Neither will it be a bar to a civil suit or any set off against a civil judgment,” McQueen said.
Steve and Katy Nevil grew up in Arlington. He graduated from Arlington Sam Houston High School and she from Arlington Lamar.
They were married on Oct. 24, 1998, and had two children, Lauren and Will.
The family moved to Franklin, a Nashville suburb, in July 2011 after Steve Nevil was promoted to regional sales manager for a medical equipment supplier.
On their return trip for Thanksgiving last year, the couple and their children planned to stay in Texarkana and go the rest of the way the next day.
But Coe changed their plans and altered their lives.
He was driving a small pickup with his daughters — 9-year-old Gracie Coe and 12-year-old Chloe Coe — when his vehicle clipped the Nevil’s vehicle, sending it crashing into trees that lined the highway, authorities said.
Coe’s blood alcohol level was 0.17, more than twice the legal limit, authorities said.
After the fatal crash, Lauren Nevil stayed in the hospital for 161 days and support for the family grew in Tennessee and North Texas. Steve Nevil created a Facebook page “ Praying for the Nevils,” which had more than 235,000 followers as of Thursday.
‘Ruined my life’
Last week, on the day Coe entered his plea, several members of the Nevil family told the Prescott man how his actions had affected them.
“You and only you are responsible for the death of a true angel,” Brimson, of Arlington, said, reading from his three-page statement. “And let’s get one thing straight: No matter what the plea was, you murdered my sister. The effect of that action has shattered my life, as you took away my best friend and my rock.”
Steve Nevil read his wife’s eulogy to Coe, then described in detail how the tragedy had devastated his family.
“My soul mate, love of my life, spouse, best friend and mother of our children’s heart does not physically beat any longer because of your selfish and preventable choice you made on 11/16/12,” Steve Nevil said, reading from his own three-page statement.
Lauren Nevil wrote out her one-page statement and spoke directly to Coe.
“You have ruined my life forever, do you realize that? Now I will have to live my life without a mom,” she said.
“Maybe he one day will forgive you, and you can go to heaven, where you forced my Mom to be today. May god show you the right path to lead you on.”