‘Her future was so bright’: Drunk driver who killed UNF student sentenced to 12 years in prison

Michael Motley, 61, pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter in July 2021 crash that killed Megan Mooney, 22

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 61-year-old man who admitted to driving drunk in a July 2021 crash that killed a University of North Florida student was sentenced Friday to 12 years and four months in prison as part of his plea deal.

Michael Motley, who gets credit for 323 days of time served, must serve two years of probation after he is released, must complete DUI school, cannot use controlled substances that aren’t prescribed to him and had his driver’s license permanently revoked.

Motley’s blood alcohol level was more than double the legal limit when he hit 22-year-old Megan Mooney’s car on Philips Highway in the Bayard area in July 2021. The FHP report said Motley was driving along Philips Highway when he hit Mooney’s car as it was turning into an intersection in the Bayard neighborhood.

Motley wasn’t arrested until nearly a year after the crash, which is typical for DUI investigations.

Mooney’s friends and family shared during Motley’s sentencing hearing Friday how her death has impacted their lives.

Megan Mooney (Provided by family)

Her godmother shared memories and described Mooney’s personality for the court.

“Megan was the embodiment of what is right with the world. She had a smile that would light up a room. She had so much to give to all of us and her future was so bright,” Marilyn Gibson said. “She was taken away before her true impact on our society could be realized.”

Her best friend, Ashlynn Dugan, told the court that Mooney’s loved ones have “struggled to learn how to navigate” in a world without their precious Megan.

“Megan had a full life ahead of her, college graduation, getting married. She will never be able to do any of these things,” Dugan said. “She was robbed of so much. She won’t be able to have children, serve her country, become a police officer, or walk down the aisle with her father as she gets married.”

Mooney’s aunt, Barbara Richmond, said it’s difficult for her to even drive through the area where her niece died.

“It’s very difficult to travel down Philips Highway without thinking to myself that I lost someone I loved on this road. On those occasions when I travel south on U.S. 1 and I begin to approach the intersection of Philips Highway and Gran Bay Parkway, tears well up in my eyes,” she said. “I pray the light will stay green so I don’t have to sit at the very intersection where Megan lost her precious life.”

Richmond said Mooney was just a couple of months from graduating from UNF and was heading home from a shift at work the night of the crash.

“She wasn’t doing anything wrong. She was just driving home,” Richmond said. “In a flash, by the callous act of another human being, her life was taken and the lives of her family would be forever changed.”

Motley sobbed at the defense table as he listened to each of the victim impact statements. He did not speak to the court before the judge announced the sentence from the plea deal.

The family did acknowledge, unfortunately, that no sentence would bring Megan Mooney back. They said they think of Mooney as their guardian angel who they feel honored to have known and loved.

About the Authors:

A Florida-born, Emmy Award winning journalist and proud NC A&T SU grad

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.