Massey Must Serve 8-Year Sentence For Traffic Death Of Tracy O'Neal

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
John Westin Massey
John Westin Massey

A man whose car crossed the centerline on Middle Valley Road and killed the driver of another vehicle in August 2012 was led away Monday night to begin serving an eight-year prison sentence.

John Westin Massey, 30, earlier pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and DUI in the death of 46-year-old Tracy O'Neal. It was agreed at the time that the sentence would be eight years.

During a four and a half-hour hearing, Massey's attorney argued that he should serve 11 months and 29 days, then be on probation for the rest of the term.

DUI Prosecutor Kate Lavery urged that he serve the full sentence in the state prison.

Massey was taken into custody after Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman decided that he should serve the full sentence.

There were a number of witnesses on both sides.

Prosecutor Lavery said, "Tracy O'Neal was a very beloved family man. I can't tell you the number of people who contacted me and said what a positive impression he made on them."

She added, "He left a wife and two young children."

She said the victim was a talented pool player and that night was coming back from a practice session. She said he was the team captain of Pocket Change out of Doublehill Billiards in Hixson and was scheduled to be in a competition in Las Vegas the next week.

Ms. Lavery said Massey registered a .12 blood alcohol content at 1 a.m. after the 11:30 p.m. crash. She said he also had a high level of Ambien, which makes a person sleepy.

She said he was talking on his cell phone with a friend on the curvy Middle Valley Road as his vehicle approached the O'Neal 2008 Ford Focus. Massey's 1998 Ford F250 veered across the centerline and struck the Focus.

Ms. Lavery said the friend said during the phone conversation that Massey appeared more and more incoherent and the friend asked, "Have you been drinking?" Then there was the sound of a crash.

Massey said he had consumed 32 ounces of wine and taken two Ambiens that night.

He made a statement at the hearing, telling the O'Neal family that he is very remorseful.

Ms. Lavery said, "My fondest wish is that we would never have to go through one of these hearings again. A DUI death is so devastating to both sides."  


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