Local News

Story published: 07-22-2014 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Gray to be sentenced this week

By Karen Sells
Assistant Editor

Former school bus driver Brenda Gray pleaded guilty last week to charges in the 2012 accident on Mount Wesley Road that occurred while she was transporting a load of David Crockett High School students, but one parent was not happy with the proposed sentence.

“It’s not right,” Charles Bunton said. “She had 39 lives on that bus, and I hope (the judge) gives her the maximum with no diversion.”

Bunton’s daughter, Cheyenne, was one of the most seriously injured, with extensive head and neck injuries. “She’s going to have to live with this the rest of her life,” he said, noting his daughter still suffers from pain.

Cheyenne was not in Criminal Court on July 18, but Renee Warren was. Warren cracked a bone in her foot during the accident and suffers from memory loss today. “I just want it to be over,” she said. “If I’m in the car, I still tense up. It freaks me out.”

Gray pleaded guilty to eight counts of reckless aggravated assault, which represent the students who incurred severe injuries.

Assistant District Attorney Erin McArdle said the next 31 counts are considered jointly as one count of felony reckless endangerment, to which Gray also pleaded guilty. “These students were checked and released,” McArdle said.

Gray’s third guilty plea was to the charge for speeding. All other charges were dismissed.

Judge Robert Cupp set a sentencing date for Wednesday, July 23, at 9 a.m.

“We entered what is called a best interest plea to resolve and put this thing to rest,” Attorney Cliff Corker said afterward.

When Corker and Attorney Jim Bowman took over the case in October following the unexpected death of Gray’s first attorney, they considered fighting the charges.

“We were originally thinking of going to trial because we thought it was a case of negligence and not criminal (action), but we changed our direction when she said she wanted to work it out,” Corker said.

“We’re hoping the court will grant our request for diversion and allow her to serve the (proposed) six-year sentence on probation and not be convicted, which would keep it off her record.”

Corker said while the accident was obviously traumatic, the case has been very unique and he has not often worked with someone as nice as Gray.

“We’re looking forward to the hearing on Wednesday and to telling our side of the story,” he said. “And it’s a compelling story.”