TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Teen Pleads Guilty After Blog Confession

Teen Pleads Guilty After Blog Confession

Orlando Sentinal (
Wed, 21 Dec 2005 13:01:47 -0600

An 18-year-old passenger who caused a fatal crash by pulling on the
steering wheel pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter after prosecutors
discovered a confession on his online blog.

Blake Ranking wrote "I did it" on his journal three days
after the October 2004 crash that caused a friend's death and left
another seriously injured. He had previously told investigators he
remembered nothing of the crash and little of its aftermath.

Blake was sitting in the back seat as he and then-17-year-old friends
Jason Coker and Nicole Robinette left a party when he pulled the
steering wheel as a prank, causing the car to somersault off the road.

His blood alcohol content after the crash measured 0.185, more than
double the legal limit.

Robinette, who was driving and had no traces of drugs or alcohol in
her system, was seriously injured. Coker lay in a coma at Orlando
Regional Medical Center until he died Jan. 11.

"It was me who caused it. I turned the wheel. I turned the wheel that
sent us off the road, into the concrete drain ..." Ranking wrote in
the blog. "How can I be fine when everyone else is so messed up?"

Ranking later retracted his words, deleting them from the blog and
penning an explanation.

"People say I 'contradict' myself since I 'already admitting pulling
the wheel.' I didn't 'ADMIT' anything. I went on a guilt trip, and I
posted the story that I WAS TOLD ... Nicole told me I pulled the
wheel, I believed her," he wrote.

Still, the confession forced him to lead guilty Monday to manslaughter
charges. He could have gotten 15 years in prison, but defense lawyer
John Spivey and Assistant State Attorney Julie Greenberg recommended
five years in prison, 10 years of probation and a permanent license

Circuit Judge Mark Hill agreed to impose the sentence Dec. 28.

Greenberg said she had planned to use the blog as evidence, a first
for the office covering Lake, Citrus, Hernando, Marion and Sumter
counties, but almost certainly not the last.

"Anytime a defendant confesses, that is very relevant and important,"
she said.

Ranking posted the lyrics to Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" the day
of Coker's funeral, but prosecutors said his remorse was not always
apparent in his blogs, which included entries railing at Coker's
mother because she asked him to stop calling and coming to the

"He lost the best friend he ever had," Spivey said in Ranking's

Ken Coker, Jason's father, said his family never wanted prison time
for Ranking, but they wished Ranking would stop writing about them
because they felt the blog was insensitive. He said Ranking would
benefit more from psychiatric counseling.

"There's not enough forgiveness in the world," he said.

Information from: Orlando Sentinel,

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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