A man sentenced to 20 years in prison is brought to tears when asked about the night he took the lives of two Okaloosa County women. Last week, a judge accepted Jonathan Dillard's plea, but not before hearing from the victim's family members.
Dillard explained what happened moments before the crash. "I reached in my floor board to grab a lighter to smoke a cigarette. When I did that, I took my eyes off the road and my truck accelerated more than what I was going, but when I looked up, it was too late."
It was that moment Dillard realized what was about to happen. Dillard hit a white Acura carrying Mary Jo Badali and Mary Birks who died because of their injuries. Dillard tells News 13 in our exclusive jailhouse interview, that he and a couple of friends did LSD and smoked marijuana hours before the crash.
"I blacked out." But when things became clear for Dillard, he got in his car and drove down Back Beach Road. Police say he was going anywhere between 80 to 100 mph.
"I went a week without eating, giving my roommate my food, and I couldn't eat or sleep. I was torn apart. There's nothing I can do or nothing I can say to really express the amount of grief that I have for that." Dillard says.
During Dillard's sentencing last week, both of the victims' families reached out to him, offering their forgiveness; an act Dillard says meant a lot to him. "Just seeing their forgiveness and how she could look into my eyes and say that she forgave me, that's love. That's something only God can do."
Dillard hopes that this story can serve as a reminder to others, to think twice about their actions and possible consequences. After his 20 year sentence, he says he plans on becoming an advocate against driving under the influence, all while spreading the word of God.