Wrong-way driver sentenced to 10 years in prison

The driver in a deadly wrong-way crash was sentenced to 10 years in prison Wednesday.

Police say on March 18, 2012, Jones Ilon was drunk when he drove the wrong way on Nimitz Hwy., slamming into another car and killing his passenger, 28-year old Billy Thomas.

This was not the first time Ilon has been in trouble for drunk driving. In 1998, he was found guilty of drunk driving and driving without a license.

Prosecutors were pushing for jail time. “He did take a person’s life,” said Honolulu prosecutor Kristine Yoo. “Even if it was his friend, it was a person’s life.  And he seriously injured two of the community members who were going to work.”

Yoo says the couple injured in the crash is still suffering from long-term effects. “They are unable to pay for their rent, their utilities, they are owing money in back taxes because they are unable to work at this time,” she said. “The wife, she cannot get onto a bus, she cannot get into a car without being worried, without being paranoid.”

Ilon’s attorney called the sentence harsh. “The state of mind is only negligence,” said defense attorney Victor Bakke. “He’s being charged basically with an accident. Everybody who gets into a car accident was negligent.

“It was his friend who picked up my client, drove him to the bar, drank, got so intoxicated that he absolutely couldn’t drive,” Bakke said. “His blood alcohol was more than 0.2 and it was my client then who was put into the position of having to make that decision and so he chose wrongly to drive his friend home.”

The defense was pushing to get Ilon 18 months in prison with probation.

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