The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on July 2, 2019, a six-member Bay County jury found Kiersten Thompson guilty of Driving Under the Influence Causing Serious Bodily Injury.
Evidence presented at trial proved that on March 11, 2017, Thompson was visiting Panama City Beach with some friends for a girls’ Spring Break trip. Thompson had been drinking a combination of alcohol throughout the day when she got into an argument with her friends. Thompson decided she wanted to leave alone and return to her home in North Carolina in the middle of night. However, Thompson’s friends had some of her personal belongings and refused to give them back to Thompson because they believed her to be too impaired to safely drive her car. This led to a confrontation at a parking lot across from the Legacy by the Sea hotel.
Thompson insisted on driving and an argument escalated between herself and one of her good friends, Kassie Gilley. Thompson was in the driver’s seat of her packed vehicle. Ms. Gilley was outside the vehicle near the driver’s seat, and behind the open front door. Thompson proceeded to physically attack Ms. Gilley. When the rest of the girls came to help Ms. Gilley, and to attempt to stop Thompson from driving, Thompson placed the vehicle in reverse and rapidly accelerated. As Thompson was reversing, she struck a few of the girls, causing minor injuries. Unfortunately, Ms. Gilley was caught under the driver’s door and drug on the asphalt for several feet. Thompson only stopped the vehicle to place it in drive. Thompson accelerated away from the scene, striking Ms. Gilley a second time. The second collision broke Ms. Gilley’s pelvis in two different places. Ms. Gilley had to undergo a serious surgical operation and complete months of physical therapy as a result of the injury. However, Ms. Gilley testified that she still feels pain every day from the incident.
Thompson was apprehended at a gas station about 15 minutes down the road. There, she admitted to drinking and consented to giving a sample of her breath. Thompson’s breath alcohol level was measured at .117 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath. The legal limit in the State of Florida is .08.
The jury deliberated around four hours before returning a verdict of guilty. Thompson faces up to five years in the Florida Department of Corrections. Circuit Judge Brantley Clark, Jr., will sentence Thompson on August 20th, 2019. Assistant State Attorneys Cord Grimes and Chelsea Stewart prosecuted the case with the help of the Panama City Beach Police Department.
For additional information, contact Chief Assistant State Attorney Larry Basford.