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Driver found guilty in 2003 death of a Dade City woman

DADE CITY — Until Friday, Charlton Oliver Jr. faced few consequences for the three deaths that occurred when he was behind the wheel.

In 1994, authorities said, Oliver was driving a carload of people at 140 mph down a country lane when the car slid off a curve and flipped. One passenger was gravely injured and lived in a nursing home until his death 11 years later. Oliver was charged with causing serious personal injury while driving under the influence, a felony. But a jury convicted him of culpable negligence, a misdemeanor, and he was sentenced to a year's probation and a $1,000 fine.

In 2003, Oliver struck an 18-year-old recent high school graduate from Dade City, who also died from his injuries. Oliver was not faulted in that crash.

Five months later, his driving took another life. Authorities said Oliver was on a date with 33-year-old Shelly Bingham of Dade City, driving on Coats Road in Zephyrhills early Nov. 23, 2003. Oliver crossed the center line, ran off the shoulder and slammed into a tree. Bingham died in a hospital 11 days later. A test showed Oliver's blood-alcohol level was 0.203. State law presumes impairment at 0.08.

The Florida Highway Patrol investigated and arrested him at his home in Zephyrhills a few months later.

He faced trial this week. Jurors deliberated a little less than two hours Friday before finding him guilty of DUI manslaughter and manslaughter by culpable negligence in the Coats Road crash.

The jury did not hear about Oliver's previous car crashes.

He faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced May 4. This time, his previous record can be considered.

Oliver, who now shows a San Antonio address, had been free on bail for the four years since his arrest.

He was taken into custody Friday and booked into the Pasco County jail in Land O'Lakes.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Driver found guilty in 2003 death of a Dade City woman 03/20/09 [Last modified: Friday, March 20, 2009 9:04pm]
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