A Nashville man with three vehicular homicides on his record and four DUIs since being released from prison was “taken off the streets for the holidays” as part of potential plea agreement Wednesday.
Danny Ross, Jr., who has been called by prosecutors as “the Nashville poster boy for repeat DUI offenders,” was led out of Judge Casey Moreland's courtroom and into jail after he agreed to waive his preliminary hearing along with surrendering bail on his fourth drunk driving episode since 2006.
Watching the unusual scene just a few feet away was Larry Scheib. Scheib's 15-year-old daughter Keri was killed by Ross while he drove drunk in the 1993 incident.
“It was fantastic,” the still-grieving father told Nashville's News 2 after the hearing.
Then, with his eyes welling up with tears, Scheib softly said “the holidays are safe.”
He added, “You know it's not so much living with the tragedy that's part of this, it's just living with the story of making something positive of something so bad.”
Scheib has followed Ross through every one of his DUI arrests, the most recent in November on Gallatin Road when police said he was sitting in his car intoxicated with the keys in the ignition.
“I knew that he was going to do it again, I knew he would drink and drive, I pray that he doesn't hit anybody and kill anybody,” Scheib continued. “I want him to see me when he walks in the courtroom and that may have been a reason why he [agreed to the plea bargain] today.”
Scheib also hoped his presence made Ross think “maybe I need to change this, [change] the way I am living.”
“If he wakes up and gets into the real world he can stand right here beside me,” Scheib added, “that's fine.”
The real world for Ross is now one behind bars with a sentence likely to run about six years in prison with eligibility for parole in two years.
“It was important for him not be on the street during the holidays,” said Metro prosecutor Elizabeth Foy. “It was also important that he not have access to a car or do any driving as he awaited the criminal court process.”
Foy indicated the plea agreement is expected to be decided in January with a prison sentence for Ross between two and eight years.
Following near a decade in prison after the 1993 vehicular homicide convictions, Ross was convicted of DUI again in the years after his release.
He was arrested and spent time in jail for DUIs in 2007, 2009 and 2010 before his arrest in November, which led him back to court on Wednesday.
Because of state law, the vehicular homicides from 1993 could not be used in enhancing or additional punishment against Ross during sentencing because he had no DUIs during the 10-year period from 1993 to 2003.
“We have got to change that,” said Scheib, who has been a crusader for tougher DUI laws. “My daughter's death 20 years ago doesn't mean anything. We can't even bring it up in a courtroom.”
Ross said nothing to court before he was led away except, “yes” to acknowledge that he understood the arrangement for being taken into custody.
His home for the holidays will be the Metro jail, and likely prison, for several years after that.
- Nov. 27, 2012: MADD: Stiffer DUI penalties needed in Tenn.
- Nov. 15, 2012: Driver responsible for fatal '93 crash charged again with DUI