A family in Nebraska is outraged after their family member’s 21-year-old killer received a weak punishment for being deliberately irresponsible behind the wheel.
According to KETV, Douglas County Judge Jeffrey Marcuzzo sentenced Jonathan McDougald to 90 days in jail and two years of probation for crashing his vehicle into 35-year-old Regina “Gina” Bright’s car in March 2022, killing her. In addition to jail and probation, McDougald was ordered to receive behavioral and mental health assistance after discovering that his actions were fueled by anger and were intentional.
According to Omaha World-Herald, the incident happened on a Saturday. Bright’s 2017 Jeep Compass (traveling northbound on 42nd street) and McDougald’s 2011 Chevy Impala (traveling southbound at 66 mph in a 35 mph zone) crashed as they both turned left into a gas station parking lot—Bright died upon impact. McDougald was transported to Nebraska Medicine to treat his knee injury from the accident.
Bright’s mother, Veronica Constance-Bright, expressed her rage and said the boy’s punishment wasn’t enough, calling it a “slap on the wrist.”
“He killed my daughter,” she said. “That’s just not enough. We pretty much have to leave it in the hands of the court and hope that this judge is fair. Reckless driving should be a felony. Whether he was drunk or not, it should be a felony.”
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said that while the family’s pain is understandable, he said that turning McDougald’s misdemeanor into a felony wouldn’t happen.
“We understand the sorrow and frustration of (Bright’s) friends and family, but the circumstances do not warrant a felony charge,” Kleine said. “The courts have determined that excessive speed, without other factors, is not enough to make it a felony.”
McDougald apologized in court and said he wanted to assist the family, but friends and family said that his words and anything else wouldn’t help, saying their fallen family member deserved more.
While describing her daughter, Constance-Bright said she was “all about love and laughter and hope and bringing people together,” adding that she didn’t know anyone who didn’t like her daughter.
Bright leaves behind her two children. They were 14 and 15 at the time of her death.