A 32-year-old Anchorage man pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of second-degree murder in a drunken driving crash that killed two 15-year-old girls last summer.
Police say that on the evening of Aug. 9, 2013, Stacey Allen Graham drove his 2006 Toyota Tacoma at a high rate of speed near the intersection of Abbott Road and 88th Avenue. He lost control of the truck and swerved onto the paved bike path where Jordyn Durr and Brooke McPheters were walking home from a back-to-school-shopping trip. The truck crashed into the girls and then a large wooden sign before coming to a rest on its side, according to police.
Durr and McPheters were declared dead at the scene. Graham suffered serious injuries and appeared in jail court four days later with bruising around his eyes. He was charged with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of manslaughter and driving under the influence -- he had a blood-alcohol content of more than three times the legal limit after the wreck, according to court documents.
As part of the plea deal Monday, prosecutors dismissed the manslaughter and DUI charges and Graham agreed to waive his right to a jury trial. He faces between 13 and 20 years on each count of second-degree murder, instead of the 10- to 99-year prison sentence each count normally carries under state law.
Clint Campion, deputy district attorney, said the prosecution upped the minimum number of years Graham could spend in jail under the deal, while also providing a cap "so he understands what the very worst outcome could be."
While handcuffed to another inmate, Graham reached for tissues and wiped his eyes during the hearing. The mothers of McPheters and Durr huddled with their arms stretched around one another in the front row. They sat between their husbands and two uniformed chaplains with the police department.
Graham's attorney, James Christie, wrote in an email that his client hoped his guilty plea brought "some level of closure to those whose lives were forever altered by his decision to drink and drive."
"Mr. Graham is a good person who made a terrible decision, and hopes that his case serves as a caution to anyone tempted to drink and drive," Christie wrote.
In August 2013, Graham was a recently divorced father of two children and a long-time salesman. On the day of the crash, he attended a golf tournament hosted by his employer, Puget Sound Pipe and Supply Co., where alcohol was served. The event ended around 2:30 p.m., a company spokesperson said last year. The crash occurred around 6:45 p.m.
After McPheters and Durr were killed, bouquets of flowers piled up near crime scene tape. Friends and family mourned the loss of two girls about to start their sophomore year of high school.
After the hearing Monday, Dayna Durr, Jordyn's mother, said she didn't know if the plea deal fit the crime.
"We have a life sentence so we will, for the rest of our lives, be without our babies," Durr said. "So as far as what's just? I don't know."
On Aug. 9, 2014, the parents of Jordyn Durr and Brooke McPheters walked along the same route that their daughters had taken a year earlier after shopping at the Dimond Center mall. The families were joined by a crowd of people and signs that read, "Don't Drink & Drive."
"It has definitely been a roller coaster ride of emotions," Durr said. "I'm constantly saying I'm just looking for peace and joy in the little things because I don't know if I'll ever be happy again, because I miss her so much."
The families are still involved in a civil lawsuit that they filed in May against Graham, his employer and another unnamed company.
Anchorage Superior Court Judge Jack Smith has set Graham's sentencing for Feb. 12. On Monday evening, Graham was in custody at the Anchorage Correctional Complex.