Father faces prison term in drunken driving death of sonJanuary 11, 2017 8:48pm

EDENTON, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina father faces a prison term after being convicted in the death of his 9-year-old son in a drunken driving wreck.

Robert Altman, 47, was sentenced to between roughly 5½ and 7½ years behind bars for felony death by motor vehicle in the death of his son, Briar, multiple media outlets reported. Briar Altman was thrown from the pickup truck on Aug. 30, 2014.

Robert Altman also was sentenced to two years for drunken driving.

Testimony and evidence in Chowan County Superior Court last week showed Altman drove 75 mph on a narrow, rural road after leaving a pig-picking where he drank beer. Evidence also showed he had a blood alcohol content of .21 percent. The legal limit in North Carolina is .08 percent.

Also in the truck was Briar Altman's older brother, Mason Bateman, who was 14 at the time.

Altman's truck ran off the right side of the road, swerved back into the opposite lane and skidded sideways, flipping at least twice into a bean field, the evidence showed. Altman and his sons were thrown from the truck; none wore seat belts. Briar ended up beneath the cab of the upside-down pickup.

Mason Bateman testified he was knocked out, recovered and tried unsuccessfully to lift the truck off his brother.

The jurors rejected a second-degree murder charge. Prosecutors brought the charge based on Altman's previous convictions for drunken driving and other vehicle crimes including driving without a license and reckless driving. The prior convictions could have demonstrated malice, a necessary element of the murder charge.

Altman cried when photos of his dead son were shown to the jury. Court filings indicate he has appealed the convictions.

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