Melandus Penson appears in court Monday

Melandus Penson appears in court Monday
Published: Jun. 8, 2015 at 9:09 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2015 at 9:52 PM CDT
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HOLLY SPRINGS, MS (WMC) - New information regarding the crash that killed two Briarcrest students is being uncovered today with Melandus Penson appearing before a judge facing several DUI charges.

It was just over a week ago that

Penson's car reportedly slammed into the back of the other vehicle, causing it to hit into a pole off the road. Maddie Kruse and Rachel Lynch died in the crash, but the three other passengers survived.

Highway Patrol officers say Penson blew a .14 after the crash, almost double the legal limit.

This is


Mississippi Highway Patrol, the Byhalia Police department and Marshall County Sheriff's Office were represented in court Monday. They spoke about Penson's bloodshot eyes and the alcohol they could smell on him. One officer says Penson stated "At least I didn't kill myself."

"It's disturbing to the point of finding out this person was able to still be on the road," said Marshall County Sheriff's Office's Dave Cook.

Penson said at the previous hearing that the driver of the other vehicle swerved and slammed on their brakes.

People explaining the accident reconstruction said that is not true. They say there was no skid marks showing either car tried to break.

On the other side of the courtroom was the family of Kara Holden, one of the girls that survived the crash. Her father said that no matter what, he felt he needed to be in court.

"This morning, she was sleeping, so I knelt down and gave her a kiss and told her I love her," he said. "The other two fathers didn't have a chance to do that."

Penson's attorney feels his past is making this case more difficult.

"This is a difficult case. If we focus on what happened that morning, we can find a true conclusion of what happened, rather than looking at his past," the attorney said.

Members of law enforcement seem to disagree and say that


Cook said Wednesday that they plan to find a way to make a central database so this will never happen again. He said that because one must be considered innocent until proven guilty, it will not be easy, but it is something they plan on working to find a solution to.

US lawmakers are working for change too. US Congressman Steve Cohen said he is working to create a bill that would cut a state's criminal justice grants if they do not comply.

"Mississippi, I think, is falling behind in this situation," Cohen said. "It would require states to continue to get federal funding if they report all convictions to NCIC."

Lawmakers and law enforcement officials say they find the case disturbing and are working to make changes to honor Maddie Kruse and Rachel Lynch.

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