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Jury convicts driver in death

Christopher Evans will spend more than six years in prison

A White City man will spend more than six years in prison after jurors found him guilty Thursday of killing his friend in a car crash.

Jurors convicted 26-year-old Christopher Wayne Evans of second-degree manslaughter and driving under the influence of intoxicants. Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia ordered Evans to spend six years and three months in prison, the minimum sentence required by Oregon's Measure 11.

Several hours before Evans crashed a friend's sports car, killing 23-year-old Jenny Ilene Lockhart, he downed shots of Jagermeister, a liqueur, and snorted a line of methamphetamine, witnesses said. Driving with Lockhart around 3:30 a.m. on Dec. 1, Evans careened through a stop sign at the intersection of Wilson and Table Rock roads near Central Point. The white Nissan 300ZX jumped about 30 feet through the air and slammed into an embankment. Paramedics pronounced Lockhart dead at the scene.

Evans' blood-alcohol level ' taken about three hours after the crash ' was .08 percent, Oregon's legal limit. Forensic analysts testified that Evans' blood-alcohol was likely between .2 and .098 percent at the time of the crash. Also, his urine tested positive for meth use.

— Evans' defense attorney, Lisa Greif, characterized Evans as a hard worker with aspirations to join the military. A social drinker, he used drugs only occasionally with a select group of friends, Evans said, denying that he had used meth the night of the crash.

He admitted taking a few meth and cocaine pills ' known as poppers ' two days previously and said he didn't feel at all impaired by alcohol when he got behind the wheel with Lockhart.

Although injured himself, Evans' only concern after the crash was for Lockhart, he said. He didn't realize his friend was dead, not merely unconscious, as he yelled Jenny, Jenny while on a cell phone with 9-1-1 dispatchers.

Every night in my nightmares, I heard her screaming, 'Chris, stop,' Evans said.

Prosecutors argued that Evans' remorse should not affect the jury's decision, reached after 30 minutes of deliberation.

Formerly employed as a bouncer at several Rogue Valley bars, Evans was well aware of the effects of drinking and driving, argued Tim Barnack, deputy district attorney for Jackson County. Evans testified that his job required him to determine when bar patrons were too intoxicated to drive. Barnack asked jurors to find that Evans was aware of but chose to ignore the substantial, unjustifiable risk of drinking and driving.

That car is a 2-ton bullet, and when it hit the (embankment), Jenny Lockhart lost her life, Barnack said in his closing argument.

Evans said he wished he could trade places with Lockhart; he remained calm when Mejia read the jury's verdict. Incarcerated since his arrest on Dec. 2, Evans was taken back to jail immediately after hearing his sentence.

I don't really care how much time he does, said Jackie Taylor, Lockhart's older sister, who attended the trial with her three other sisters. I just wanted to prove to everybody that he was guilty, and he did know what he was doing.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 776-4487, or e-mail