Family Asks for Leniency for DUI Driver

SCRANTON -- A man was sent to prison Thursday for the DUI crash that killed his fiancée but he received a much shorter sentence because her family asked for leniency.

The McClinton family says they lost two family members in that crash back in December of 2015 near Simpson.

Jennifer McClinton died in the crash. Her fiancé Dwight Sharp was driving and under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Deadly DUI crashes typically carry a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison but the crash that killed Jennifer McClinton, 24, of Simpson, has a different set of circumstances making it all feel even more tragic.

Her fiancé Dwight Sharp was behind the wheel and when he went in front of a judge to be sentenced for the deadly wreck, Jennifer's family came to his defense.

"We had to forgive him to move forward," said Jennifer's mother Linda McClinton. "He's been a part of our family for five and a half years. He didn't have a family growing up, we were his only family. He loved her, and he would never intentionally harm her, or hurt her, definitely not hurt, kill her. The message is, just don't drink and drive."

Jennifer's mom, aunts, and cousin took the time to hug Sharp before he left to serve a state prison term of at least one year and nine months.

According to court papers, Sharp had a blood alcohol content about twice the legal limit and was speeding when the couple crashed after a party in December of 2015.

The McClintons say they asked for leniency because Jennifer would have.

"Every morning when I wake up and I don't want to get out of bed, I say, 'what would Jen do?' You know that phrase, 'what would Jesus do?' I use it as what would Jen do. Jen was a very forgiving person. She was a very loving person, and that's why I get up every day and I do the things I do," said her aunt Lisa Stiers Wilson.

In addition to his prison sentence, Dwight Sharp will remain on probation for two years after getting out and must get drug and alcohol counseling, something Jennifer McClinton's family specifically asked the judge for in court.

14 comments

  • Jake Smule

    Please protect my family from this piece of trash and put him away for 30 years so that he won’t hurt any citizens and he can be on the DL with da bros.
    My daughter would know better than to get into a car with that trash never mind be with him for 5 years.

  • Linda MCCLINTON

    I’m her mother, you don’t know the whole story. The maximum for his charge of death by dui is 3-6 years maximum in PA because they were engaged it was automatically dropped to a 3 year maximum. He was charged with 5 other charges that carried jail terms and / or probation, when all is said and done he will have 4 plus years in jail and not a day less, at least 12 months in a alcohol and drug facility, 3 years probation for the death by dui, 16 months probation for the other charges and he has to live with his choice and her loss every day! He struggles every day over the decision to drive 1 block, less than a 2 minute drive to their home. He never ran, he fore went a trial, admitted his guilt over and over, never fought what his sentence was going to be. The prosecutor said in all his years He never met a defendant who showed more remorse over his actions and faced what he did. If you never lost a child do not judge, it is harder to carry hatred and anger every day than it is to forgive, and to forgive was the hardest thing I had to do. I had to forgive because it was killing me, I can’t do a normal life, I can’t leave my house, I can barely get out of bed because the grief is that extreme, I struggle everyday, I grieve every day for my daughter and I am stuck in the moment that I was told she was taken away from me..I miss my daughter every second, every minute of every day!!! So don’t judge unless you have walked in my shoes!!! This is my pain every day and it is real!!!! The weight of anger and hatred is too much to bear. I fought with family and friends because I had to forgive to move forward. My daughter was a beautiful , kind, forgiving soul and I know this is what she would have agreed to. As for Dwight, he judges himself harder than anyone of you or a judge does. I’m not defending him because what he did was wrong!!!! The decision to get behind the wheel after drinking is wrong!!!! To drink and drive or to do drugs and drive is wrong!!!! But you want to see fault or place blame look at the laws in place and the judgements for crimes.

  • Robert

    I think the families involved should have sway on the law. Though this can be a double edged sword.
    If neither family was involved with law enforcement, there are no prior gang/criminal connections on record. Then, by all means respect the wishes of the families involved as an alternative to blind (mandatory – the law is the law) justice.
    Weed? Nothing but another form of prohibition. Get over it. Though it does not belong behind the wheel. That I support.
    PS. Stop blanket coverage of persons based upon race. I like the way comedian Chris rock explained it with “Bring the Pain 1996” look up the vid! Its so very to the point and funny.

  • Mad Dog

    What kind of message doesn’t this send society? Forgiveness is up to the family but the law is the law. Three years is a joke let alone a year and a half! He is an adult and made a choice to drive under the influence. Period. This judge now made it acceptable to “make a mistake ” that kills someone and basically get a slap on the wrist. Our legal system is a joke. If that were my daughter he killed, he never would’ve made it to prison.

  • AUGIE

    Did he lose his job? Not ours or your fault he is part of the cycle of broken black families. Throw his black ass in prison and let the family move on. He is just a constant bad reminder and memory where their daughter did not choose wisely.

  • El Ma

    I understand the concept of forgiveness – it’s for the surviving family members, not the accused. But, begging for leniency because they were his “only family?” Seriously? Strong and confident parents expect that their offspring will accept responsibility for their actions, stand accountable, and take whatever consequences apply.

    It is the most confounding thing to me that a person who sells weed to another person can expect YEARS in prison while the minimum punishment for killing someone while driving drunk is 3 years. I realize that Law isn’t “fair,” and I get it. But, this isn’t even equitable. This is simply incomprehensible.

  • Deshawn

    Alcohol AND Drugs…makes perfect sense, why not just let him walk free? He CHOSE to drink and drive, he was not forced. In the future, when he gets out, see how long until something “crazy” happens to any of these people.

    • TRKRGR

      “people like him”…that’s probably 1/2 of lackawanna county…..those “people like him” just haven’t killed anyone…………YET. But hey, let’s make sure we keep alcohol completely legal and available on ALL corners now

      • CeeMe

        There’s nothing wrong with having a drink, but when you abuse alcohol, that’s when it becomes a problem and yes, I think more often then not, people abuse it and drugs. Still, no excuse. Lots of people have tough upbringings and don’t turn to substances to solve their problems and cope with their emotions. Drunks and druggies kill innocent people and are better off in jail.

  • Larry Stokes

    Why should there be any leniency for this person. He killed someone by driving drunk. He made the decision to do so and now he should bear the consequences. Drunk driving is a nothing more than a self centered senseless act that responsible can preventable. What the courts did by allowing l leniency is set a possible precedence and send a bad message. I totally disagree with this outcome.

    • TRKRGR

      if you read the story carefully, you’ll see leniency was at the request of the dead persons family, who are also victims of this horrible incident, which will help them move on. The guy is doing a prison sentence. If you think justice should be served.. do something about that looser who bashed Sharon Budds skull in. Her children have no father and her life as she knew it is gone forever while that scumbag Brett Lahr, also gets a DUI with NO jail time at all

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