Stiff Jail Time Handed Down in a Local Double Murder Case, and for DUI Manslaughter

It was an emotional day Friday at the Bay County Courthouse where Circuit Judge Glen Hess handed down sentences in two high profile cases.

He sentenced 27-year-old James Wilson to 12 years in prison followed by three years probation for DUI manslaughter.

Wilson hit and killed 69-year-old Ernestine Grinstead last year, as Grinstead was taking her evening walk in the Treasure Palms neighborhood on Laird St.

Wilson tearfully apologized Friday to the woman’s family before Judge Hess pronounced punishment.

Elsewhere in court, Judge Hess handed down the maximum penalty allowed for a Callaway man convicted of killing his two roommates.

Thomas Couch shot Daniel Fabris and Nicole Savageau with a machine gun last year after a night of drinking in their mobile home; it was Miss Savageau’s 17th birthday.

A grand jury indicted Couch on two counts of first-degree murder, but a sympathetic jury convicted him of only second-degree murder in Fabris’ death and an even lesser conviction, manslaughter for killing Savageau.

The lenient verdicts shock courthouse observers.

During Friday’s sentencing, Judge Hess called Couch “ a real life Rambo” and then gave him life in prison for the second-degree murder conviction. He sentenced him to 30 years prison time for the manslaughter conviction.