Ginger G. Zehner-Denton, the Belleville mom who bought alcohol for her 18-year-old son Stephen Zehner before his fatal crash, just got plea deal from St. Clair County prosecutors that appears lenient at first glance.
Instead of facing a felony charge, she was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor count of unlawful delivery of alcohol; instead of facing one to three years in prison, she likely will get less than a year in the county jail.
Often we argue that the maximum charge is necessary to deter others from making the same bad choice. But this case is an exception. The parents of Stephen's 16-year-old seriously injured passenger are agreeable to the reduced sentence. Further, the tragic consequences of Zehner-Denton's actions already send a strong message. There's no sentence that could be any worse for a mother than to know that her actions contributed to her son's death.
This tragedy should serve as a cautionary tale to parents want their kids to think of them as cool and their buddy. Providing alcohol to a child is never the way to do it. Alcohol and driving at any age is a dangerous combination, and especially so for a teen still developing his driving skills and judgment.