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Man sentenced in fatal 2007 wreck
Two years for death of girl, 10
wreck 2 jd
Wills truck after the collision. - photo by File photo
A Buford man will serve two years in prison for causing an alcohol-related wreck that took the life of a 10-year-old girl and injured her mother and brother.

Gregory Wills, 42, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Forsyth County Superior Court to homicide by vehicle, serious injury by vehicle, driving under the influence of alcohol and reckless driving.

As part of his negotiated sentence, he must also spend more than 20 years on probation.

Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Wills on Dec. 11, 2007, after his Chevrolet pickup truck collided with Jennifer Rao’s Dodge Caravan at Hwy. 20 and Market Place Boulevard.

Rao’s daughter, Kiran, died 10 days later at Grady Memorial Hospital as a result of the injuries she suffered in the wreck.

Jennifer Rao and her 14-year-old son, Alexander, were hospitalized for their injuries. Wills was not hurt.

Before he was sentenced, Wills told Forsyth County Chief Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley that he was “involved in a horrible accident.”

“I’m extremely sorry,” he said.

Wills said he had been drinking earlier that night at a bar in Roswell and was en route home when the wreck occurred.

He said he was heading east on Hwy. 20 and accelerated at the traffic light in an effort to miss Rao’s van, which was turning left in front of him, without endangering anyone else.

He also told Bagley he didn’t think he would’ve been able to handle the situation better if he had been sober.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Sandy Partridge took issue with Wills’ testimony.

“The death of this child is his fault,” she said. “Maybe he’ll accept it in prison, maybe he won’t.”

Partridge noted that Wills’ blood alcohol level was 0.13. The legal limit in Georgia is .08.

She said the black box from Wills’ truck likely would not have been allowed as evidence had the case gone to trial.

Wills’ attorney, Matt McCord, said there were issues with witness accounts of the wreck, as well as with the investigation.

Jennifer Rao spoke on her family’s behalf. She, her son and daughter were knocked unconscious in the wreck and each spent several days in different hospitals.

She said her daughter’s brain and lungs were damaged. After 10 days and two consultations with doctors, the girl was taken off life support.

“There were once four of us and now, because of you, there are only three,” she said to Wills.

Rao said Wills was getting “a slap on the wrist” because of “legal technicalities” and “the incompetence of the sheriff’s department.”

“We hope those drinks were worth it,” she said. “You took our only daughter and hurt our only son.”

A video featuring photos of Kiran Rao, made by her father, was also shown in court. Wills showed no emotion as he watched.

“I think what we’ve just seen puts everything in perspective,” Bagley said of the video. “How precious life is and how it can all be snuffed out in a moment through carelessness and recklessness.”

Bagley noted that the sentence was lenient and told Wills “you deserve to stay behind bars for much longer than this negotiation for what you have done.”

The judge added that he understood the sentence was negotiated, but he didn’t like it.

Bagley denied Wills’ request for first offender status.

After the hearing, Jennifer Rao said Partridge did her best, but Wills’ sentence was “a miscarriage of justice due to several mistakes [in the investigation].”