Woman charged in wreck|Driver who allegedly hit Billys had lengthy record
Published 11:33 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009
By By NEAL WAGNER
special to the standard
A Birmingham woman has been charged with reckless murder in a fatal Montevallo wreck that also injured two Brewton brothers.
On Thanksgiving Day, the Montevallo Police Department arrested 52-year-old Diane Harris Stephens and charged her with one count of reckless murder and one count of leaving the scene of an accident. She was being held in the Shelby County Jail in lieu of $150,000 bond.
The wreck killed University of Montevallo freshman Amy Elliott, 18, of Madison. Twins Stephen and Joseph Billy of Brewton, also Montevallo students, were injured, as were their classmates Logan Arrowood of Phenix City and Eonna Chambers of Birmingham. Chambers and Arrowood remained hospitalized as of Tuesday. The Billy brothers were released from the hospital last week.
The fatal wreck was investigated by the Shelby County Vehicle Homicide Task Force, which is composed of members of several county law enforcement agencies.
According to court records, Stephens has had a lengthy criminal history, including four felony convictions, the latest in March 1998 for theft of property, and traffic violations including a February 1984 DUI conviction in Birmingham Municipal Court and a March 2003 conviction for driving on the wrong side of the highway in Montevallo Municipal Court.
Stephen Billy was driving Elliott’s vehicle when the accident occurred. Stephens allegedly hit the vehicle carrying the five Montevallo students head-on, spinning the SUV so that it was hit broadside by another car. The students had been traveling to an Alabaster restaurant.
Those who knew Elliott described her as a kind, honest and joyful person Nov. 30, as more than 100 University of Monetevallo employees and students crowded into the university’s Robert M. McChesney Student Activity Center during a memorial service for Elliott.
Quiet weeping and embraces filled the air as the University of Montevallo Chamber Choir sang a pair of pieces in Elliott’s honor.
Dr. Kimberly Barrett, the university’s vice president of student affairs, called the event a “tragedy,” and said the university’s thoughts and prayers would be with the Elliott family.