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Family tracks man down; prosecutor acts on info

— A confessed drunken driver headed to prison Thursday to serve at least three years of 15 maximum for killing 22-year-old Angela Dunford in January 2007, said a Southwestern Judicial Circuit official.

Roger Hamilton, 40, of Ashboro, N.C., pleaded guilty in December to drunken driving and vehicular homicide, said Chief Assistant District Attorney Lewis Lamb. He asked the judge to sentence Hamilton to serve 10 years, he added.

The sentence was given by Judge Rucker Smith, who was arrested in June for drunken driving, speeding and having an open alcohol container in his car while in Leslie, Sumter Sheriff's Office officials reported. No information on Smith's case was immediately available.

The case against Hamilton was strong, Lamb said. He added Hamilton drank enough to register a .138 on the breath test three and a half hours after the crash on Lee County's Palmyra Road. A reading of .08 is considered over the limit.

The crash threw Dunford from the car and killed her, Lamb said, leaving her 23-month-old son Trey motherless. Hamilton was injured, but recovered.

According to members of Dunford;s family, Hamilton posted information on social media websites about his continued drinking, Lamb said.

"He showed a total lack of remorse," Lamb said. "I have never seen a man whose post-collision conduct was so bad."

Armed with those posts, Dunford's family led Lamb to reopen the case after three years had passed. Lamb said he was uncertain why the case was not prosecuted under the previous district attorney Cecilia Cooper.

The prosecution required Hamilton to be extradited from North Carolina. Lamb's efforts led to a Georgia governor's warrant sent to the North Carolina governor's office asking for Hamilton's custody.

"Hamilton is the most irresponsible man" Lamb said. "He had a prior DUI in Minnesota. He posted a picture of the wreck that killed Dunford on the web with the caption 'It just had to be a Ford LOL.'"

Comments

Abytaxpayer 2 years, 3 months ago

JUST MY OPINION! But why is a murderer who loads himself with alcohol then decides to drive a car and kills another person different from a murderer who loads a gun then points at another person and pulls the trigger killing that person…Both murderers make a personal decision to endanger others which results in a death. But the excuse of being drunk makes it not so bad? Don’t get me wrong I am not against drinking or guns but both require personal responsibility for which each should be held accountable if it results in a death.

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waltspecht 2 years, 3 months ago

Why is it that if an individual decides to kill the next person they see, if it is not a Policeman they can get off with as little as 10 - 15 years. However, if that individual happens to be a Policeman, they get the death penalty. Both represent a human life, one probably better equiped to defend themselves than the other.

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Cartman 2 years, 3 months ago

I hope the Herald discloses the details of Mr. Hamiltons's conduct. Lack of remorse is an understatement. Judge Rucker Smith should have thrown the book at him. Instead he gave less than a third of the time recommended by the prosecutor. I hope it wasn't because the judge has been arrested a couple of times in the past few years himself for drinking related conduct. This puts him in an uncomfortable quandry. He cannot sentence harshly even if the case calls for it without coming across as a hypocrite. Why he is allowed to sit on alcohol cases is beyond me. Lee and Sumter Counties deserve better.

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 3 months ago

Not familiar with Judge Rucker Smith’s history. But now it does sound like one drunk protecting another.

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Cartman 2 years, 3 months ago

Just google "Judge Rucker Smith" for more info. Draw your own conclusions.

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BILLSGURL 2 years, 2 months ago

wish I had googled the judge before hand!!!

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 3 months ago

Good catch "Cartman" the Herald did an update and you hit the nail on the head. I guess the Judge just said hey one drunk to another I let you slide this time. I must say the Dunford family are better people than I. After reading the updated story if I had been the one tracking him down ...well let's just say there would be no reason to try a man with no pulse.

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LACMAC67 2 years, 3 months ago

WHERE CAN THE SAID UPDATE BE FOUND?

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BILLSGURL 2 years, 2 months ago

actually it wasnt the dunfords family at all that tracked him down. it was the aunt-thats me. I ama palmer

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iko 2 years, 3 months ago

What "Abytaxpayer" apparently doesn't understand is that someone who gets a gun and INTENTIONALLY kills someone SHOULD be punished more harshly than someone who (however irresponsibly) kills someone in an accident.

I don't expect any response (other than name-calling) from anyone on this anonymous comment thread, but that's reality.

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ObjectiveEyes 2 years, 3 months ago

No name calling here, but, I have to disagree with you. IMO, the person who makes the choice to get behind the wheel of a vehicle when they are DWI, is just as guilty as the one who pulls a trigger. The only difference is the method of the killing. Either way, an innocent victim is still dead.

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Cartman 2 years, 3 months ago

Most DUI related homicides involve defendants who are remorseful. This guy was not. He thought he had skated out; posted pictures of himself continuing to drink; and posted "lol" under a picture of the wreckage. If you were the victims family and saw this, you would expect more than 3 years.

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 3 months ago

Sorry to disappoint you, but just because we disagree does not require name calling…. I do disagree, Anyone who drives drunk has INTENTIONALLY made the decision to take a risk of endangering themselves and their own future as well as others. They know there is a risk if they drive drunk. The risk maybe as small as a scratched or dented fender and at the least they know there is the possibility of getting caught and charged with DUI and the increase cost of insurance. The problem is society has become so willing to allow people to escape personal responsibilities with the thinnest of reasons. Saying I was impaired because of my drinking has become one of the biggest escapes of personal responsibilities. If the legal penalties for DUI were higher to start with and society did not coddle drunk drivers there would be fewer people risking to drive drunk.
BTW… Wikipedia defines “An accident or mishap is an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance, often with lack of intention or necessity. It implies a generally negative outcome which may have been avoided or prevented had circumstances leading up to the accident been recognized, and acted upon, prior to its occurrence.”
So I submit a drunk driver is no accident. Every drinker I know , knows you drink too much you risk getting hurt, maybe something as simple as falling off the barstool to wrecking your car if you drive. The risk are foreseen yet they decide to risk it, so it is no accident they killed someone with the car. They INTENTIONALLY decided to drink then INTENTIONALLY decided to drive, yet you claim they did not INTENTIONALLY mean to kill the person. The drunk knew the risk beforehand yet the other person paid the price for the drunks INTENTIONALL decision. I say no accident! Murder should never be sugarcoated.

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LACMAC67 2 years, 3 months ago

FIRST OF ALL, YOU HAVEN'T A CLUE WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT; I AM ALSO AN AUNT OF THE DECEASED VICTIM AND AND MR HAMILTON WAS THE LOADED GUN IN THIS INSTANCE. UNLESS YOU HAVE WALKED IN THE SHOES OF THE LITTLE GUY WHO WAS ROBBED OF HIS MOTHER, OR THE ONES LEFT BEHIND, I PERSONALLY THINK YOUR OPINION IS IRRELEVANT SO DO US ALL A FAVOR AND MAKE NO COMMENTS TO SOMETHING TO WHICH YOU OBVIOUSLY HAVE NO KNOWLEDGE OF.....

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waltspecht 2 years, 3 months ago

Our DUI laws are a joke to Europeans. They see them as lienient in the extreme. They are that way because the Law Makers see themselves getting caught, and want to limit their personal liability. In Norway I have been told if you are caught DUI once, you can never legally drive again. Plus if you are caught driving after a conviction, you serve a mandatory five years. Here it is my understanding that the individual that wrote our DUI law wrote a book on how to beat the charge in court, and that he has represented many individuals and got them off on technical issues. Makes a good living at it too. Plus, how can you justify allowing folks on a suspended license to drive to and from work? Do any of you really believe they won't drink a Beer on the way home?

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 3 months ago

Now back to the punishment of Roger Hamilton confessed drunken driver. I submit that because of his total lack of remorse, He should also be sentenced to serve any of the 15 years not spent in prison by having to personally to make a face to face visit with Trey Dunford every Mother’s day and Christmas eve and each time tell Trey “I am the drunk who killed your Mother”.

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agirl_25 2 years, 2 months ago

Excellent idea. Make him never forget what he has done. I have read of judges imposing sentences similar to that and think it is a wonderful idea. Let him live with it for the rest of his life. I am amazed a judge like Rucker Smith is allowed to sit on the bench.

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BILLSGURL 2 years, 3 months ago

I am said victims aunt and will be responding to this post later. Saw and read and will be replying.

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Cartman 2 years, 3 months ago

Judge Rucker Smith's own DUI arrest in June, where he allegedy refused to take the alcohol test, ended very leniently.

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mrs2001 2 years, 3 months ago

Good ol rucker smith let off the drunk driver that killed my father in law with only 2 years when the district attorney asked for 10 a few weeks ago. I firmly agree the man should not be allowed to hear Dui cases. No way is he impartial.

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BILLSGURL 2 years, 3 months ago

I COMPLETELY AGREE and intend to fight for what I believe. I will not rest till I have fought this.

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 3 months ago

Sorry for your loss. And Don’t give up your fight. Trey deserves better than this.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 2 months ago

Please do fight it at a higher court. Sorry for your loss.

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LACMAC67 2 years, 3 months ago

FIRST OF ALL, HIS NAME IS TRE-NOT TREY-NOT MEANT TO SOUND UGLEY, BUT THAT IS NOT HIS NAME..TO ALL OF THE LISTED ABOVE-IF YOU ARE SUPPORTIVE, THANK YOU; IF YOU ARE NOT, THE DON'T COMMENT. AS ANOTHER AUNT OF ANGELA DUNFORD, I HAVE BEEN SITTING FOR 5 YEARS WAITING ON THIS DAY; HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR MY SISTER, WHO HAS TRE, THIS WOULD HAVE NEVER TAKEN PLACE; THE STATE OF GEORGIA FAILED TO PROTECT TRE IN A BIG WAY WHEN HE WAS NEVER CHARGED INITIALLY, AND HER HOME STATE OF NC FAILED HER AS WELL. MY SISTER, TRE AND MY BROTHER IN LAW HAVE HAVE FOUGHT FOR JUSTICE IN THIS TRAGEDY FOR TOO LONG; THE SO CALLED "MAN" AKA ROGER HAMILTON IS NOT A MAN, MERELY A MALE-A REAL MAN WOULD HAVE HIMSELF HELD ACCOUNTABLE. NO MATTER HOW MANY YEARS HE IS IN PRISON, IT WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH; I HAVE WATCHED AS MY SISTER, BROTHER IN LAW, AND TRE HAVE WENT THROUGH PAIN AND SUFFERING BEYOND WHAT MOST CAN IMAGINE. AS FOR THE JUDGE, WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND. APPARENTLY THE RIGHT TO LIVE IS NOT A PRIORITY IN HIS LIFE-ANGIE HAD NO CHOICE IN THE DECISION OF HAMILTON TO TAKE HER LIFE. HAMILTON'S LIFE AND THE LIFE OF JUDGE SMITH ARE HALF OVER MOST LIKELY, BUT TRE'S LIFE HAS BARELY BEGUN. IF YOU ARE BEING SUPPORTIVE OF MY SISTER, NEPHEW AND BROTHER IN LAW, MY SINCERE THANKS TO YOU; IF YOU WANT TO SIT BACK AND DEFEND THE KILLER, I HAVE TO WONDER HOW YOU WOULD FEEL IF IT WERE YOUR NIECE OR OTHER FAMILY MEMBER WHO WAS TAKEN FROM YOU...AGAIN, DON'T JUDGE UNTIL YOU HAVE WALKED THE WALK THAT THIS FAMILY HAS HAD TO ...

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BILLSGURL 2 years, 3 months ago

Who would have thought they had to google a Judge. I will not stand for this injustice without a fight. The man being sentenced might as well been sitting in the JUDGES chair. JUDGE RUCKER SMITH has failed Angela's little boy-"Tre". I shared things from that little boys heart that he has shared with me and that judge slapped hamilton on the wrist after it took a Governors Warrant to get him here. 5 years of hell for me in pursuit of this person because Cecilia Cooper did not do her job as DA and now Rucker Smith has not done his. Apparently as he sat there as Judge over this mans future he was reflecting on his own in a sorts- being he has a DUI which was right after he issued a bench warrant for Hamilton on May 12., 2011. I am a citizen of GA as was Angela Nichole Royal Dunford. Her son is a little citizen with no say... none the less HE IS A CITIZEN and I AM HIS VOICE. Angela has a page on Facebook. Please friend her www.facebook.com/RememberingTresMommy and please let your voice be heard.

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BILLSGURL 2 years, 2 months ago

@LACMAC67- there hasnt been no update since this was in the paper. Thank you Abytaxpayer for your encouragement and truthful comments above. Hamilton started this the night he picked my niece up drinking. I FULLY INTEND to see that every single day of the 3 years is pulled. I also am seeking info into the situation at hand since there was a DUI charge against the judge who sentenced him. Way I see it- Hamilton might as well been sitting in the judges seat... this IS NOT ACCEPTABLE behavior from a judge who tries felonies much less a judge-- period.

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 2 months ago

Keep up the battle. Atleast when Tre gets older he will see his family loved his mom and stood up for her when no one else did. Bless you and your Family

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lawgeekreader 2 years, 2 months ago

so you let your married, niece leave with a drinking driver, who thinks she is single?

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BILLSGURL 2 years, 1 month ago

Married niece was estranged not that its YOUR business. Let her leave with a drunk driver... she was a young 22 year old who was picked up from her job in a company car by this pathetic older person who was preying on young girls and had several prior arrest for DUI/DWI in states of Minnesota and Washington State. get your facts straight. seen any records? any of the evidence against him?? didnt think so- just spewing ignorance out of that mouth of yours. hard to swallow what a crappy friend you had in hamilton is it... careful don't choke on that bite.

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lawgeekreader 2 years, 2 months ago

and BTW Mr. Hamilton was not 40 when this happened, he was 35 and MRS. DUNFORD was 22. He was sentenced at 40

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lawgeekreader 2 years, 2 months ago

lol Love how the earlier comment was left off, no truth here...only what people want others to know!!! Love it!!!

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truthfulbuck 2 years, 2 months ago

Yes, my comment wasn't posted either...

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