Man walks free after hitting and killing one person, injuring another


Since 2013 Jennifer Hesselbein Aycox has had 38 surgeries, a portion of her leg amputated and lost her left eye.

The former AMR paramedic was struck by Robert Howard as she was caring for a patient.

Aycox was seriously hurt and the patient, Jessie Thomas, died.

“It’s not just about me there was a life that was taken that night,” says Aycox.

According to Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith, Howard had alcohol in his system the time of the crash.

On October 9 he took an open plea in front of Judge Bill Gowan and pleaded guilty to all charges.

DA Smith says since Howard is on dialysis the judge took away his jail time and gave him 5 years probation.

“We did not anticipate a completely suspended sentence,” says DA Smith.

“I’m just afraid that he is a danger sitting out there waiting to hurt somebody else,” says Aycox.

Aycox says Howard’s role in the crash that night has prevented her from doing what she loves most.

“I was simply trying to help a patient that night and I got hurt doing a job that I love. I want nothing more than to get back on a truck and return to the place that I belong helping others and saving lives,” says Aycox.

Aycox was in the courtroom when the judge made his decision.

She says she wanted to get Howard’s attention to show him how her life has changed, “I really want Mr. Howard to know how much he has affected so many people by doing one senseless thing.”

We reached out to Judge Gowan Friday afternoon for a comment, but he was out of the office.

Aycox says she’s about to undergo surgery number 39 next month to get another portion of her leg amputated.

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