Cherokee County Jury Convicts Woodstock Man in Deadly Crash

A Woodstock man has been found guilty of all charges related to a crash that killed a landscape worker in the Towne Lake community, the Cherokee County District Attorney’s Office announced.

On June 20, a Cherokee County jury convicted Patrick Emerson Thomas, 69, of homicide by vehicle in the first degree (reckless driving), homicide by vehicle in the first degree (DUI less safe, drugs), reckless driving, and driving under the influence (less safe, drugs). Sentencing is set for June 27.

The charges stem from an investigation by the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office into a fatal crash in the Eagle Watch subdivision in the Towne Lake area of Woodstock. Deputies determined that shortly after 4 p.m. on November 17, 2020, Thomas drove his black 2018 Ford Mustang through the neighborhood at speeds exceeding the posted limit and crashed into 59-year-old Justiniano “Papi” Pirir-Pirir, killing him on impact. Pirir-Pirir was part of a landscape crew working at a home on Eagle Watch Drive.

The crash occurred behind a legally parked Isuzu landscape truck with hazard lights flashing. Justiniano “Papi” Pirir-Pirir was behind the truck starting a leaf blower when Patrick Emerson Thomas’s speeding Mustang struck him, then crashed into the truck, deploying the car’s airbags.

Thomas claimed the sun obscured his vision, but evidence showed he was speeding at least 13 miles over the limit, with no visibility issues for other drivers. Witnesses saw Thomas speeding and tailgating before the crash, which was captured on a home surveillance camera.

During the four-day trial, ten witnesses testified for the state, including law enforcement officers, drug recognition and forensics experts, and eyewitnesses. Prosecutors also presented more than 100 exhibits, including photos of the scene and home surveillance video footage showing the crash. Senior Judge Walter J. Matthews presided over the trial.

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The conviction of Patrick Emerson Thomas in the fatal Cherokee County crash underscores the severe consequences of reckless and impaired driving. As the community continues to heal, the legal outcome serves as a reminder of the importance of road safety and the need for responsible driving. The sentencing on June 27 will further determine the extent of Thomas’s punishment, aiming to provide justice for the victim and deterrence against future offenses.

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