Mom pleads not guilty in DUI crash that killed 2 sons

Tonya Capallia-Eason accused of driving drunk with kids in SUV

YULEE, Fla. – A Nassau County mother facing two counts of DUI manslaughter in the deaths of her 9-year-old and 8-year-old sons pleaded not guilty Thursday.

Tonya Capallia-Eason waived her appearance in court, but her attorney entered the plea on her behalf at the arraignment.

Her next court date is set for Jan. 26.

Investigators said Capallia-Eason was driving with seven children in a Ford Explorer and had a blood alcohol level almost double the legal limit when she struck a utility pole Oct. 22 on Lonnie Crews Road.

Nicholai Capallia and Nehemiah Capallia-Bird were killed in the crash.

The father of the two boys said the trial will give him some relief.

"More closure, I guess. Over the last few years, it's been one thing after another, as far as the court systems go," Andrew Bird said.  "A very big part of it is closure about all of the recent events, which I will probably never get complete closure, but it will help."

Bird, who has custody of the boy's sister, said he will be in court for the trial and sentencing if she's convicted.

“I didn’t really expect her to plead guilty,” he said. “There was always a chance that she would, but she still hasn’t showed any sense of remorse, of any wrongdoing, so I don’t know why she would start now.”

According to her arrest report from the Florida Highway Patrol, Capallia-Eason lied to investigators the night of the crash, saying that she "was a passenger in the vehicle when the driver began to lose control" and she "attempted to assist the driver when the vehicle struck a pole and rolled over multiple times."

Troopers said Capallia-Eason was found trapped upside down in the driver's seat of the SUV, and they confirmed that she was the driver, which is why she is now facing charges.

Also released in the arrest report were the toxicology results, which show that Capallia-Eason’s blood-alcohol level was 0.148 -- well above the legal limit.

She's being held in the Nassau County Jail on $500,000 bond. She could face four to 15 years in prison for each charge.

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