The teenage driver of a stolen vehicle learned his fate Friday for his role in an accident that killed four people last spring.
Skylar Lucas-Cox, 18, was sentenced in Buchanan County Circuit Court to a total of 22 years in prison for two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of second-degree assault. He previously had entered a guilty plea to the charges. Four of his friends, Dayton Ray Crockett, Dasean Darden, Karlo Ginn Jr. and Javion Thompson, were killed in the accident, which occurred on Good Friday, April 14.
During sentencing, Lucas-Cox told the judge he was the driver of a stolen Toyota Tundra that crashed on Riverside Road. Investigators found that he had consumed alcohol, marijuana and cocaine.
The packed courtroom learned Lucas-Cox was with a friend the night before the accident. The unnamed friend allegedly stole the Toyota. Lucas-Cox then stole the pickup from his friend later in the evening.
An aunt said Lucas-Cox delivered an item she’d asked for at 7 a.m. on April 14. She let him leave because he appeared to be sober. If he hadn’t been, she swore she wouldn’t have let him leave.
Court records showed the teen had attended three drug treatment programs.
Shortly before the accident, Lucas-Cox called Darden and picked him up.
Darden’s mother, Leameana Davis, told the News-Press she’d moved from New York for a better life for her family. She said her son was no angel, but for two years she’d been fighting to keep him off the streets.
“He wanted to be a rapper and I wasn’t for that at first,” Davis said.
But she said when she discovered how much it really meant to him, she encouraged him, buying equipment and letting him bring friends over.
“I knew they weren’t on the streets,” Davis said “And I’d cook for him and his friends.”
She said she is angry because she will never see what could have been for her son. Her only salvation has been turning back to the Lord, she added.
Another mother spoke to the judge, telling him about her son, Xavier Dydell, who along with Lucas-Cox survived the wreck, but not without a cost.
He suffered a traumatic brain injury, which has forever changed his life.
Jacob Stallworth was driving to work that morning, and when Lucas-Cox crossed the center line on Riverside Road, his life also was changed.
He sustained severe injuries and required weeks of rehabilitation, said Dwight Scroggins, the Buchanan County prosecutor.
Lucas-Cox had been sent to the Colgan Center, an alternative school, several years ago.
Pam Blevins, the defense attorney, called St. Joseph Police Department Officer Joe Herrera, the school resource officer, to testify about knowing the teenager.
Herrera told the courtroom how he’d met and conversed with Lucas-Cox.
“Structure was what Skylar was looking for,” Herrera said. “He was a bright kid.”
“That he’s intelligent I have no reason to doubt,” Scroggins said. “There’s nothing more common in life than wasted talent.”
When Lucas-Cox left the Buchanan County Academy, he quit school and began using drugs again, Scroggins said.
“He still doesn’t believe he’s in need of (drug) treatment,” Scroggins said.
Circuit Judge Dan Kellogg sentenced Lucas-Cox to eight years for each count of manslaughter and six years for assault, ordering the sentences to be consecutively served. However, the judge gave the teen a bit of a break. If Lucas-Cox successfully serves the first sentence, the remainder will be suspended and Lucas-Cox will be placed on five years supervised probation.
Scroggins told the News-Press he gave the charging decision a lot of thought. Scoggins said in charging the two counts of involuntary manslaughter and the assault charge, he wanted the judge to have latitude and flexibility for sentencing.
The plea bargain left the sentence entirely up to the judge.