Two Forsyth County men pleaded guilty to public intoxication Wednesday in a case that stemmed from the 2010 death of a 30-year-old man.
The men initially faced charges of second-degree vehicular homicide and obstruction of law enforcement, but the state could not prove the more serious accusations with the limited evidence available, said Chief Deputy Solicitor General Inez Grant.
Jordan Milne of Maryland died on Sept. 21, 2010, two days after suffering a head injury when he fell from a pickup truck in a west Forsyth neighborhood.
Milne’s brother-in-law, Brian Phillips, and a neighbor, Steven Boldt, were headed to Boldt’s home to play pool about midnight on Sept. 19, 2010, following a block party where they’d all been drinking.
The initial information given on the 911 call suggested that Milne had been walking and fallen down, as indicated in a Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office report written two days later.
A reconstruction of the case and witness statements led investigators to determine Milne had fallen from a truck, Grant said.
No report was written the night of the incident, she said, and it wasn’t until Milne’s mother called to request an investigation that the agency began its review.
That investigation led to the arrest of Boldt and Phillips months afterward.
Boldt, 41, was charged with second-degree vehicular homicide, driving too fast for conditions, reckless conduct and willful obstruction of law enforcement officers.
Phillips, 43, received charges of willful obstruction of law enforcement officers and false statements.
Wednesday, both men pleaded guilty in Forsyth County State Court to public drunkenness, something Grant said the state believed it could prove.
A delayed law enforcement report, inconsistent accounts of the incident and lack of witnesses were among the “pitfalls of the case,” Grant said.
“I just can’t even find a traffic offense to make this fit a second-degree homicide,” she said.
The driver of the truck remains unknown, as neither man would volunteer the information and no other witnesses were present, Grant said.
When given the opportunity in court, both men declined to make any comments on the matter.
Calling the case “frustrating,” State Court Judge Russell McClelland expressed concern about accepting the pleas without all the facts, especially when a loss of life was involved.
“If that’s what it takes to bring closure to the family and the defendants,” McClelland said. “If it’s not satisfactory but the best resolution, then I’m more comfortable with it.”
If the case had gone to trial, it’s possible the men would receive no penalty, so he said Milne’s family should know the pleas at least put a mark on their records that will have to be explained.
In a negotiated plea, Boldt received 12 months on probation, which includes no possession of alcohol, 100 hours community service and a $500 fine.
Boldt entered his plea to public intoxication as an “Alford plea,” which indicates he does not accept guilt, but believes the evidence would cause a jury to find him so.
Phillips pleaded guilty and received 60 days on probation and a $500 fine.
Milne’s family members expressed anger that the state could offer to close the case, but accepted the plea negotiations as their only option.
“People should not be able to commit crimes like this and get away with it,” said Jordan Milne’s wife, Christine. “The defendants will never be adequately held accountable for their actions.”
She said the “continued irresponsible actions” of the two men led to her husband’s death, and their lack of being forthright about the accident afterward was “salt in the wound.”
Jordan Milne, an Army veteran, died the week after his 30thbirthday and his twin sons’ second birthday, leaving his wife with two young boys who she said don’t remember him.
“Jordan was everything to me,” she said. “I’m still crippled with grief.”
The tragedy has also torn the family apart, she said, since Phillips is married to her sister.
Jordan Milne’s mother, Jane, said the Boldts’ car insurance company paid out a settlement without admitting that their pickup truck was involved.
Jane Milne, a retired police officer, said the deputies who responded that night should have written a report as required by law.
The lack of an investigation that night was one of the major setbacks in the state’s ability to prosecute the men.
Sheriff’s office spokesman Doug Rainwater said deputies responded to a medical call that night.
“At that point, the deputies thought it was a medical call, the man had probably fallen down,” Rainwater said. “The issue of the truck was not involved at this point.
“It wasn’t until he got to the hospital that things started to unfold about what really happened.”
Deputies do not write reports for a medical transport, he said.