The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

October 17, 2013

Driver in fatal Limestone wreck received light sentences on 3 previous DUIs

By Jean Cole

— The woman charged in a fatal wreck on Interstate 565 last month in Limestone County had three previous convictions for driving under the influence, records show.

Jessica Jean Gatewood, 49, of Huntsville, also known as Jessica Lewter, has received light sentences for her previous DUIs, two of which occurred in Limestone County and one of which involved a traffic accident, records show.

Gatewood received her fourth DUI — and a reckless murder charge — when she plowed into a Range Rover driven by Terrell Kent Hollingsworth, 45, of Decatur, on Sept. 25 near Mooresville. When the accident occurred, Hollingsworth and his passenger were waiting in a line of slow-moving traffic backed up on I-565 due to another wreck that killed an Athens woman, Marissa Baugher and her unborn son, Micah, as well as Fredrick Bender, 66, of Vestavia. 

When the second wreck occurred about 7 p.m., Gatewood was driving about 70 miles per hour in a 60 mph zone but in traffic that had stalled from the previous 4 p.m. wreck, according to troopers and Huntsville Police.

Hollingsworth died from his injuries at Huntsville Hospital two days after the wreck.

Light sentences

Records show Limestone County charged Gateway with DUI in November 2010 in connection with a traffic accident. While the case was pending over an extended period, she was arrested two more times for DUI.

Decatur Police arrested her Feb. 6, 2012. Five months later, on July 4, 2012, Limestone County arrested her, again for DUI.

After her second Limestone County arrest, the Limestone County District Attorney’s Office filed a motion to revoke Gatewood’s bond on the first case. However, before she was arrested, the district attorney’s office allowed her to plead to both Limestone County charges.

On the first Limestone County DUI, she was sentenced to one year in jail but the jail time was suspended and she was ordered to spend two years on unsupervised probation.

On the second Limestone County DUI, she received 365 days in jail with all but 5 days suspended, so she served only five days in jail. She was also placed on two years of unsupervised probation.

In the Decatur case, which was adjudicated in Morgan County on June 20, 2013, she received 180 days in jail but the jail time was suspended.