DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — At 24 years old, Hillside High School graduate Dy’mon Cousin was a mother to two young boys.
“She loved dancing and she was very family-oriented,” Cousin’s godmother Shaqueelah Shaw-Harris said.
But in July of last year, Cousin was killed in a single-car crash on Roxboro Street.
The Durham District Attorney’s Office said the driver had a blood alcohol content of 0.12. Cousin was the lone passenger in the vehicle.
“Our Dy’mon has been taken from her children,” great uncle Rapheal Royster said.
Now, her family is calling on the community, telling everyone to never drink and drive.
At the Durham County Courthouse on Wednesday morning, 24-year-old Ashley Thompson-Johnson pleaded guilty to felony death by vehicle.
“You still have to take accountability for yourself and your actions and what you did,” Shaw-Harris said. “Drinking and driving should not be tolerated.”
A judge handed Thompson-Johnson two years of supervised probation with 45 days of jail time. A prison sentence could come if the terms of probation are violated.
“I really wish I could go back and change everything that happened,” Thompson-Johnson said in court. “I made a mistake and I am sorry.”
The judge’s decision disappointed the victim’s family.
“It’s not an easy decision, but it is the decision that I wholeheartedly accept,” Durham County Superior Court Judge Josephine Kerr Davis said.
Cousin and Thompson-Johnson had been friends since middle school.
“I hope, one day, you can all find it in your heart to forgive me,” the defendant said.
“A life was lost because of her breaking the law,” Royster said.
While Cousin’s family members say they can’t change the past, they beg the public to be responsible when it comes to drinking and knowing when not to drive.
“I just feel like only true justice can come during God’s judgement day,” Royster said.
Additionally, according to Assistant District Attorney Dale Morrill, Thompson-Johnson lost control and the vehicle veered into the median, rolling into multiple trees on July 16. Cousin was pronounced dead at the scene.
“It tears my heart out that, again, we have to see another beautiful soul lost from drinking and driving,” Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Services Specialist Erin Bouknight said.
Over the span of 24 months, Thompson-Johnson is also required to complete community service, spend 90 days on house arrest, speak publicly about the incident and pay $500 among other obligations. She did not have a prior record.
Cousin’s family plans to set up a memorial for their loved one.
Editor’s Note: Assistant District Attorney Dale Morrill and Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Services Specialist Erin Bouknight spoke to CBS 17 after this update aired on TV March 29.