Son of victims killed in New Year's Day crash fights to keep suspect jailed

Keller Russell

Son of victims killed in New Year's Day crash fights to keep suspect jailed

CREATED Jan. 31, 2012

MILWAUKEE- In their last photo taken together, Ed and Jean Thaves appear happy,  smiling, and dressed up for a night out at Potawatomi Casino.

It's a photo that's bittersweet for Ed's son, Edwin Thaves, to see.

Hours later, the couple was killed in a crash New Year's Day.

"The details of the crash are just so horrific, it's hard to put it out of my mind," said Thaves, who shares his late father's name.

17-year-old Kelley Duke Jr. is charged in their deaths.

Police say Duke stole a car, drove drunk and ran from the scene after the crash.

"It's disturbing that someone lacked even the humanity to check to see whether two people had survived," said Thaves.

Tuesday, Edwin spoke about that day, publicly for the first time with TODAY'S TMJ4 reporter, Keller Russell.

And his words are with purpose.

Kelly Duke Jr. is due in court Thursday.

His attorney had planned to request a big reduction in the teen's bail.

The Thaves were outraged when they were informed of the news.

"What is most disturbing to me right now is Kelly Duke, could literally be days away from being back on the streets, behind the wheel of a car," said Thaves.

So his family started a petition to keep Duke behind bars -- now more than 140 signatures strong.

"When you're facing 157 years in jail and you've already run away from the scene of a crime, you're likely going to run away again and we just can't have that happen."

Tuesday, Duke's attorney told TODAY'S TMJ4'S Keller Russell that he has no plans to ask for a reduction in bail right now.

Instead, he'll ask a judge to see whether Duke's competent to stand trial because of injuries from the crash, saying they're concerned about the teen's condition.

It's a move that could prevent Kelly Duke Jr., from ever having his day in court.

Edwin Thaves doesn't buy that defense.

"Clearly the injuries he sustained didn't prevent him from running away (from the scene) so I highly doubt that those injuries would make him incompetent to stand trial."

Thaves calls the proposal a tactic to prolong the hurt and pain his family and the community are suffering.

"I think it sends a message to this community that people who drive drunk, can get away with it. He (Kelly Duke Jr.) killed two people.

And he's asking anyone who has been victimized by drunk driving, to support his family's petition to the judge to keep Duke behind bars.

"I feel strongly, if we want to prevent this from happening again, and prevent other families from going through what I'm going through, here's where we need to take a stand." 

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