Two Philadelphia women sentenced for running down bar patrons

Posted: February 17, 2012

Two years ago, Sharonda Cheeves and Jesslyn Williams got into trouble because they were drunk and disorderly, got ejected from a North Philadelphia nightclub, and just wouldn't go home.

On Thursday, they couldn't go home. Cheeves, 24, and Williams, 23, were each sentenced to multiyear prison terms for hitting six people - killing one - as they circled Club Motivation four times in their Chevrolet Monte Carlo on Sept. 4, 2010, picking off patrons on the sidewalk.

"I know you don't know me, so you don't know that's not who I am," a weeping Williams told Kadella Davis, who as "Mama Breakfast" hosted a weekly dance party for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people at the club.

"That night, I just wanted to go out and have fun," Williams said. "It was totally out of my character to act like that."

Davis was among Cheeves' and Williams' victims - hospitalized 25 days with multiple facial fractures, four broken vertebrae, a fractured pelvis, and a broken arm - and she sat in the Common Pleas Court gallery, sobbing and wiping tears, as Williams spoke before sentencing.

Judge Benjamin Lerner sentenced Cheeves - who was driving when the car hit and killed 27-year-old Alisha Moore - to four to eight years in prison and a $1,000 fine. Cheeves will be on two years of probation when released. Williams, who got out of the car before its fourth and fatal lap around the bar, was sentenced to two to four years in prison and three years of probation, and fined $2,000.

Given that neither woman had a criminal record, Lerner said, he might have imposed lighter sentences but for the repetitive nature of the automotive rampage in the 2300 block of North Eighth Street.

Speaking to Williams, Lerner cited "the number of times that [she] had the opportunity to desist what she was doing and simply drive away."

At a preliminary hearing in May, Davis testified that she walked the inebriated Cheeves and Williams to their car five times after they were refused entry by a security guard, whom they punched in the face.

Instead, Davis said, about 4:30 a.m., the Monte Carlo began circling the club, plowing into people on the sidewalk as they left.

Witnesses said Williams drove the first three times the Monte Carlo struck people but left the car before Cheeves took the wheel for the fatal circuit.

Cheeves, who was initially charged with a general count of murder, pleaded guilty in December to homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, conspiracy, aggravated assault, and leaving the scene of a crime.

Williams pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, conspiracy, accidents involving death or personal injury, driving under the influence, reckless endangerment, and simple and aggravated assault.

Though moved by Williams' remarks, Davis said she would have preferred longer prison terms for the women.

"At least they didn't get probation," Davis said. "Over 21/2 hours, I asked them five times to go home. It was stupid, just a stupid situation."


Contact staff writer Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985, jslobodzian@phillynews.com, or @joeslobo on Twitter.

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