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Friday - February 13, 2004

RALEIGH - United States Attorney Frank D. Whitney announced that GEORGE EDWARD WHEATLY, JR., 21, of 156 Hawland Parkway, Beaufort, N. C., was convicted in federal court in Raleigh on Friday, February 13, 2004, following a jury trial. The jury found him guilty of:

Knowingly killing Juliane Strauch in the commission of (1) unlawful acts not amounting to a felony, that is, driving while impaired and reckless driving, or (2) in the commission in an unlawful manner and without due caution and circumspection of a lawful act which might produce death.

for which he could receive a maximum sentence of six years imprisonment, a $250,000.00 fine, and three years of supervised release.

In addition, WHEATLY was found guilty of the following misdemeanors:

- Reckless driving;

- Unsafe operation of a motor vehicle;

- Possession of alcohol by a person under the age of 21;

- Carrying an open container of alcohol within a vehicle; and

- Driving under the influence.

He pled guilty to not wearing a seatbelt, also a misdemeanor.

For each of the six misdemeanor charges, WHEATLY could receive a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment.

Chief U. S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle will schedule sentencing at a later date.

According to evidence and testimony presented in court, during the early morning hours of June 14, 2003, WHEATLY was driving a Jeep motor vehicle on the beach of Ocracoke Island, within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The Jeep overturned and came to rest upside down in the ocean, approximately 15 feet from the shore. Two of WHEATLY's passengers survived the accident, but the third, Juliane Strauch, could not be revived and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the health center in Ocracoke. Ms. Strauch was a citizen of Germany and was residing in the United States at that time as part of an exchange student program. At the site of the accident, officers detected the odor of alcohol about WHEATLY. He was placed under arrest, and approximately one and one-half hours later given an Intoxilyzer test, which revealed a breath alcohol content (BAC) of .08%.

Investigation of the case was conducted by the National Park Service. Assistant U. S. Attorneys Barbara D. Kocher and Thomas B. Murphy prosecuted the case for the government.

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