Driver in crash that killed her son faces Level 4, Level 5 felonies
Christine Stinson was shattered June 17.
Stinson’s son, Joseph “Evan” Dely, 31, died that day when his Jeep Wrangler was struck from behind while traveling Interstate 465 on Indianapolis’ southeast side toward the airport. He was catching a flight for a camping and hiking trip with his stepbrother when a 21-year-old on parole, driving under the influence while speeding and distracted, caused Dely’s life to end.
His mother is still shattered, and she’s not satisfied with the punishment the other driver faces. So much so that Stinson has suggested to state legislators a change to state statute for future similar situations.
Teriyon D. Carter, now 22, was on parole from two Level 3 felony armed robbery convictions when he left a friend’s residence to drive home, using his GPS on his cellphone, according to court documents. He tested positive for THC in his system, and admitted reaching to retrieve the dropped phone from his floorboard while driving 89 miles per hour in the center lane.
For six months, Stinson waited for charges against Carter, who has been incarcerated at the Putnamville Correctional Facility for violating his parole. Two days before the new year, Carter was formally charged with three felonies related to Dely’s death: causing death when driving under the influence, causing death when driving with a controlled substance in his system and reckless homicide.
“There is no comfort when your child is taken from you, let alone in such a senseless, selfish manner,” Stinson said about charges finally being filed. “To know that if you had just followed your parole, my son would have made it to the airport. If you would not have been on your phone, my son would be alive.”
During her six-month wait, Stinson knew Carter would face lower-level charges than even his armed robbery felonies, let alone the felony murder charge Stinson thinks he deserves. His first two charges are Level 4 felonies, carrying a six-year advisory sentence and a sentencing range of two to 12 years. Reckless homicide is a Level 5 felony.
Stinson, executive director of Wayne County Health Department, reached out to District 56 State Rep. Brad Barrett first, then Barrett and Stinson contacted State Rep. Michael Aylesworth of District 11 in Lake and Porter counties. Barrett empathized with Stinson’s terrible loss, and said he and Aylesworth are investigating how her concerns are best addressed.
“I’m getting as much information from as many people as possible to see if it’s a legislative issue or if there’s a fix outside of statute,” Barrett said.
Indiana adopted a comprehensive criminal code revision that took effect July 1, 2014. That changed the felony classifications, sentencing guidelines and good-time calculations.
Barrett said he listens to constituent concerns and tries to find the root cause among a complicated system. Sometimes, that results in legislation, such as a case-specific law passed during 2022 to help two Wayne County families receive variances that enable their homes to remain in newly designated flood plains.
If legislation results, it will not impact Carter’s case. The Indiana Department of Correction lists his projected release date as Feb. 6, 2024. Stinson said Marion County prosecutors hope to have his case to trial before then, but a judge elevated his bail on the new charges to $80,000 on the chance that doesn’t happen.
Stinson said her son was intelligent, learning 15 South American languages as an Air Force linguist. He was an athlete at Delta High School, according to his obituary, competing in wrestling and football. And he loved gaming.
The obituary also asks that people invest in cellphone holders for their cars to decrease distracted driving incidents.
“People will often say, ‘Well, I hope there’s justice for Evan,’ and to that, I think, you know, there is no justice for Evan,” Stinson said. “Justice would have been that he survived. That would have been justice.”