Man in Chase that Killed West Memphis Cop Gets Sixty Years

DECEMBER 3, 2004 - Posted at 3:41 p.m. CST

WEST MEMPHIS, AR - A man being pursued by a police officer who crashed his life has been convicted of manslaughter and fleeing and sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Mertin Fondren, 30, had been charged with first-degree murder.  But jurors opted for the lesser charge when they returned their verdict Thursday.  After further deliberations, the jury decided on a 30-year sentence, the maximum, for manslaughter.  They tacked on another 30 years for fleeing a police officer.  He also got a year in jail for theft, and the sentences are to run consecutively.

Fondren and two other men were charged after West Memphis Police Officer Michael Waters died September 11, 2003, when his patrol car crashed while pursuing suspects in a convenience store theft.

Terrell Kinnell and Otis Vernell Graham pleaded guilty to theft charges in August.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)