Verdigris Teen Driver Sentenced To 20 Years For Killing Man, Baby

Thursday, June 21st 2012, 5:41 pm
By: News On 6

A Verdigris man who pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree manslaughter was sentenced to prison Thursday afternoon.

Keaton Hannah, 19, received a 20-year sentence on each count, to be served concurrently.

On June 17, 2011, Hannah was under the influence of alcohol, more than three times the legal limit. He was driving the wrong way down Highway 66, near Gordon Road in Rogers County and crashed his truck into a Claremore family, killing a father and his infant son.

Investigators say Hannah was first involved in a minor accident, but tried to leave the scene.

"Witnesses say then that truck turned around going the wrong way, that would be northbound in the southbound lanes of 66," Andy Floyd, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, said last summer.

Hannah's truck hit a SUV head-on, which was carrying Eric Watkins, his wife, Ginger, and their baby, Bryor. The crashed killed Eric and Bryor instantly and sent Ginger to the hospital.

6/17/2011 Related Story: Claremore Teen Arrested After Suspected DUI Crash Kills Man, Baby

Hannah was arrested and charged with first-degree manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident. Prosecutors said a DUI charge against Hannah is included within the manslaughter charges.

"I hate him," Ginger Watkins said following the wreck. "I know the Bible; everybody always tells us never to hate, but I hate him. I hate him with all my heart.

"I'm only 21 and I'm already a widow. I lost the love of my life and my precious little boy."

At the time of the deadly collision, Hannah had just turned 18 and was a recent high school graduate. According to his pastor, Hannah had dreams of becoming a youth minister one day.

Hannah was in court Thursday for sentencing, and he held his head down and cried for much of the hearing, only raising his head to listen to the Watkins family members.

They told the judge how much Eric Watkins loved his young son, how would sing and talk to him long before he was born and that he was working to open his own welding shop.

A clinical psychologist and a family friend testified on behalf of Hannah. They said he is extremely remorseful and never once has said he's not responsible.

"He never said 'me' one time," Hannah's attorney Jack Gordon said. 

The state asked the judge for a 50-year sentence, of which Hannah would have served 30.

The 20-year sentence Hannah received will be up for review in a year. His attorney said he plans to ask for the remainder to be suspended so Hannah can tell others his story and help prevent more drunk-driving deaths in the future.

Saturday, a day before the one-year anniversary of the crash, Ginger Watkins posted on Facebook a photo of a cross she erected in honor of her late husband and son.

"on my way to put cross up for my boys... just feel numb and unreal... tomorrow is a year. happy early father's day to everyone," she posted.

Tuesday would have been the young couple's second wedding anniversary.

On her way to the sentencing, Ginger Watkins posted on Facebook: "Just hope everything goes good and [I] get justice for my boys."

Afterward, Ginger Watkins told News On 6 she hoped Hannah's sentence would have been longer than the 20 years he was given.

"Honestly, I don't think it is enough, because he took my husband and he took my son," Ginger Watkins said. "My son was only seven months... and this 18-year-old gets away with it. Basically, my son didn't even make it to his first birthday."