Only On Three: Parents Acquitted of Charge of Giving Alcohol to Teen Girl
Photo: Video by kmtv.com
Omaha, NE-A teen left their house drunk, then crashed his car and died. Monday, the couple is speaking out, after waiting 10 months to share their story exclusively with Action 3 News.
"I will never forget the past 10 months," David Newell said.
Last week, David and Donna Newell were acquitted on a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
September 28th, 2012, the Newell's went to watch a husker game at a friend's. Their daughter, Lindsey, had several friends over for her 18th birthday while her parents were gone. The teens were drinking. Donna and David said when they got home they asked everyone for their keys. One of the guests, 18-year-old Jon Zadina left. A block and a half away, he slammed his car into a tree. The crash killed him.
"Every time I stop at the stop sign, and I have to look that way, I see the tree that he hit. It reminds us all the time," Donna Newell said.
The couple said they saw about 9 kids in the living room, and never saw Zadina.
"One got away, and then a horrible accident happened. But that is not what we were being charged with at all," Donna said.
The past ten months, the couple has been battling the courts. Teens testified Zadina was drinking before he was at the Newell's. David and Donna faced a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor for a 17 year old girl who was at the party. Last week, a jury ruled the couple was not guilty of that offense.
A judge had ruled Zadina's crash had nothing to do with the case, so testimony did not include any information about the crash.
KMTV contacted Carolyn Zadina, Jon Zadina's mom tonight for a comment or interview. She turned down any interview, but offered this statement:
"The severity would have been harsher if the jury knew the party had contributed to Jon's crash. The Newell's said they took away everyone's keys; well they didn't take away Jon's keys. They called it a bad dream, just being charged. Our bad dream never goes away. Had the jury been able to hear about the death and that the accident happened in such close proximity to their home, I think the outcome would have been very different."
Some states have social host ordinances or dram laws. Those allow an adult to be charged simply for providing an underage drinking environment, regardless of who provided the alcohol.
Nebraska does not have such a law.
The couple says the public still thinks they're guilty. They said they will have to spend the rest of their lives dealing just with the fact they were charged. Donna had lost her job. David, a federal employee, says every 5 years he gets an in depth review and will always have to explain the situation.
Papillion police Chief Leonard A. Houloose said two other arrests were made in relation to the party. Timothy Pazda, 40, was arrested last November and charged with procuring alcohol for minors. He failed to show up for his court date and an arrest warrant was issued in May. The warrant is still active and he's believed to be residing in Texas. Houloose said Pazda is a close friend of Dave Newell and was visiting from out of state on the date of the incident.
Lindsey Newell, the 18 year old who was having the party, was arrested and found guilty in May for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Child. She received 10 days in jail, 24 months probation, and a $200 fine. Houloose said as a minor, Lindsey Newell was held criminally responsible for allowing/encouraging children (aged 17 and under) to consume alcohol at her residence.
The Newell's says their hearts go out to the family of Jon Zadina. They say even though the court case is closed, they're not sure they can ever move on from what happened.
"A horrible thing happened. This is not a victory interview. It's a shame what happened to that child. It's a shame how it happened. For them to continually paint our family and portray us as the individuals responsible for that action is wrong," David Newell said.