Busted Online: Jade

Damning Evidence

"I was driving with my sister when Joshua crossed over three lanes of traffic and hit me head on," Jade says. "My sister thought I was dead. I had broken my right forearm, left hip, left femur, left collarbone, and the windshield had landed on my forehead, tearing it open at least an inch, and I had significant bleeding in my brain."

Officers on the scene said Joshua's blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit. Just two weeks after the accident, while Jade was clinging to life in the hospital, Joshua was photographed at a Halloween party wearing an orange prison jumpsuit bearing the words 'Jail Bird.' The photos were posted on his Facebook profile.

"When I first saw those pictures, I was completely speechless," Jade remembers. "I couldn't possibly fathom how someone could do something like that. He clearly showed no remorse."

[AD]Prosecutors were able to use the photos and other postings on Joshua's online profile to paint him as a party boy with no remorse, and the judge sentenced him to two years in prison and eight years probation.

"At Joshua's sentencing, they had those pictures up on a projection screen for the judge to see with the word ‘remorseful' and a question mark," Jade says. "I know for a fact that if those pictures from Facebook had never surfaced, Joshua would not be spending any time in jail. Those pictures are what put him away."

Recently, Jade returned to the scene of the accident that nearly took her life.

 
"I'm trying to find any piece of my car, his car, anything I can find that would show what happened. I don't remember that night. I think I'd be able to move on more if I actually found a piece of my car. I think it would be like closure," she says.

[AD]In the brush, Jade finds a large section of windshield. "It's definitely been there for a while. It's not a new piece of glass," she says. More searching yields a section of a vehicle. "It's more closure than finding nothing. This makes it more real to me because it used to be just a story. People would tell me, ‘This is what happened. This is where it happened.' This makes it more real."

"The implication here is that he's been charged with drunk driving in this horrific accident, and so he's making fun of that, like, ‘Hey, hey, I'm going to be a jail bird,'" Dr. Phil says to Jade.

"Basically," she says. "His lawyers said he didn't know how to handle it. That's why he did that."

"Lisa, what do you think about that from a legal perspective?" Dr. Phil asks.

[AD]"You know, we used to say a picture is worth a thousand words. Now a picture is worth almost a thousand days in jail for him," Lisa says. "The hardest thing to do in criminal law is to get inside someone's mind in sentencing and say, ‘Are they really remorseful?' because when you look at him at sentencing, there he is in his suit, all cleaned up, looking very contrite. Well, how do we get into someone's mind? We look into his MySpace or his Facebook page, and there he is, thumbing his nose at the law. Judges, lawyers, prosecutors are increasingly looking at this stuff to get inside our minds."

"How do you feel toward him at this point?" Dr. Phil asks Jade.

"Sickened. I hope he learned his lesson. I don't think he did, but there's really not much you can do if he didn't," she says.

"When you get a candid photo like this to contrast how somebody comes in all contrite at trial, it gives you a much more candid look at who they really are," Dr. Phil says to Lisa.

"Absolutely," Lisa agrees. "What people usually do before sentencing after a drunk driving case like this that has caused so much damage to someone like Jade is they go to rehab, they go to AA, they go to church, they write letters expressing how sorry they are, and you always wonder, are they just doing that because their attorney put them up to it or do they really feel that way? And when you see a candid photo of someone in a jail bird outfit, laughing with that smile on his face, that says more than any of those other actions combined could really say about him."

[AD]Dr. Phil tells Jade, "I'm glad you came here to talk about this because it shines a bright light on these kids drinking and driving, and it shines a really bright light on the consequences of what you put on the Internet and what pictures get out there."