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Drunk Driver Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison

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Mary Kathryn Abernathy and Jonathan Henderson
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WOODLAWN, Md. (WJZ) — A young Maryland couple was killed by a drunk driver as they watched an illegal street race.  Now a judge has put that driver behind bars for 20 years.

Weijia Jiang has emotional reaction from the victim’s family.

On Tuesday, a judge sentenced the man convicted of killing 20-year-old Mary-Kathryn Abernathy and 21-year-old Jonathan Henderson.  Donneil Raeburn, 28, of Pikesville was found guilty of two counts of automobile manslaughter.  He’ll spend the next 20 years in jail, the maximum punishment.

“The first thing he did was get up and apologize.  He apologized for his actions, he apologized for causing us so much pain and I saw a lot of emotion,” said David Abernathy.

In June 2009, Raeburn was driving near the Interstate 70 Park and Ride when he plowed into a group watching an illegal street race.  Prosecutors say he was driving 82 miles an hour when he crashed and that he never tried to use his brakes.  They also say even four hours after the accident, his blood alcohol content was twice the legal limit.

It was the second high-profile crash linked to Maryland street racing in as many years.  In 2008, eight people died when a Crown Victoria plowed into a group of spectators.  Since then, police have added rumble strips and cameras to at least 10 dragging hot spots.

Family members admit the young couple was in a dangerous situation but insist that’s not what caused the tragedy.

“An individual went out, had too much to drink, got behind the wheel of a car, basically turning it into a 3,500 pound killing machine,” Abernathy said.

The victims’ families are in the process of setting up scholarship funds in their honor.

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