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Driver in fatal accident receives 1-year sentence

The driver in a single-car accident that claimed the life of a 17-year-old last July was sentenced in McDuffie County Superior Court on Friday.

Phillip Daniel Bonner, 23, of the 300 block of Pierce Avenue, pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle in the second degree.

He appeared before Toombs Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Harold A. Hinesley and received a 12-month sentence - six months in jail and six on probation.

He will also be required to pay a fine, abstain from alcohol and adhere to a curfew during his probation.

Bonner initially pleaded not guilty at an Oct. 5 arraignment but subsequently changed his plea for his Friday court appearance. He was represented by the county public defenders office.

The accident occurred on July 10, 2010, on Rousseau Creek Road. Authorities said alcohol was a factor in the crash.

In a July 15, 2010, article, Trooper First Class Rich Fishel of the Georgia State Patrol post in Grovetown said Bonner was rounding a curve while traveling south on Rousseau Creek Road shortly before 11 p.m. He lost control of the vehicle, which left the roadway and turned over at least once.

Lawrence Lee Harris III, a rising senior at Thomson High School, was a front-seat passenger in the Oldsmobile Aurora driven by Bonner, a Thomson graduate.

Harris, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown out of the vehicle through the front windshield. He was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

Bonner was taken to the Medical College of Georgia Hospital in Augusta. He was released Sunday, July 11, 2010.

Web posted on Thursday, December 15, 2011

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