COVINGTON, LA (WVUE) - A doctor whose DUI test results "slipped through the cracks," now pleads guilty to three felony charges.
Dr. Lawrence Getz plowed into the back of a north shore family's SUV on the Causeway nearly three years ago. It's a follow-up, to a joint FOX 8, Times-Picayune | NOLA.com investigation - a case of justice delayed.
"He took an oath to take care of people, and look what he's done to my family," said victim Dara Johnson in November of last year.
As we first told you, doctors at Interim LSU Hospital found Getz to have a blood alcohol content of .21 - three times over the legal limit - after his SUV slammed into the back of Dara Johnson's SUV with her two children were inside. But the DUI record never made it to court, and the Johnson family was stunned to learn,after the fact that Getz was allowed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts: driving with an expired license and careless operation. He paid a $409 fine.
"I felt that I was let down by St. Tammany Parish and my attorneys, because I thought it was their responsibility to let me know what was happening," said Johnson.
The Johnson's fired their attorney for alleged conflicts of interest. He worked for the McCrainie Sistrunk law firm, the same firm in which former St. Tammany District Attorney Walter Reed was "of counsel."
The Johnsons were told by an assistant DA that their case had slipped through the cracks. But then they began pushing back, and succeeded in getting the DA's office to put the case before a parish grand jury which looked at the record, and indicted Getz on three counts of first-degree vehicular negligent injury two years after the accident.
"It was ridiculous. They needed to recuse themselves," said FOX 8 legal analyst Joseph Raspanti.
The family then got Reed to recuse himself from the case, which was picked up by the state attorney general. Now, the attorney general's office confirms that Getz pleaded guilty to those charges and is now awaiting sentencing.
"You can get up to five years in jail for this, it's a serious charge," Raspanti said.
It's a verdict that comes as a relief for a family that's fought for justice for nearly three years now.
"I just hope my family will be treated fairly throughout the rest of the case," said Johnson.
Getz will be sentenced March 3 by St. Tammany Judge Reggie Badeaux.
We reached out to Getz's attorney and the firm of McCrainie Sistrunk for comment, but have not heard back.