LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It was a shocking crime. A young girl hit and killed by a car near her Moss Bluff home... Now the man behind the wheel, will soon go free.. Chris Fowler-- convicted of negligent homicide following the 2006 case was granted parole today. However, Fowler's release in seven days will be intensely supervised.
It was April 17, 2006 when Ariel Thigpen was hit by a car and killed while walking along Paul White Road with her cousin. Investigators said Christopher Fowler had xanax and marijuana in his system. He was on trial for vehicular homicide--when he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of negligent homicide.
Fowler was sentenced to five years in prison but the sentence was suspended-- which meant if he didn't get into trouble-- he could avoid time in the Department of Corrections and spend only six months in the parish jail-- which he was being allowed to serve on weekends. But then last year he was involved in another hit and run here on Ryan Street near the McNeese Campus... His probation was revoked and he began serving time in what's called the Impact program--- a sort of boot camp at Hunt Correctional Facility.
Now he has been granted parole -- which Kurt Wall with the State Attorney General's office is what usually happens if they successfully complete the impact program...Wall says the 27 year old Fowler will be under intense supervision and have to participate in something called Teen Challenge. "What little I know about it it's a pretty good program as far as continuing to provide structure for individuals that are being released out into society. It's a faith based program and it's a twelve month program, from what I understand where it's a residential center."
Ariel Thigpen's mother Sandy had planned to attend the parole hearing. She had received a 30 day written notice of the hearing but was then contacted by phone Monday and told the hearing was being moved up.. That's scarcely 24 hours notice which Wall says is not fair. "Especially with the seriousness of this type of event where you have victims' families that want to be able to show up and have their voices heard, to change the date and time on them within a 24 hour period, I think that's deplorable."
Corrections officials say they are looking into details of whether sufficient notice was given of the change in the hearing date which in part reportedly stems from a backlog due to cancellations from flooding earlier. If Fowler stays out of trouble he will still be under supervision until April 13, 2015.