After a tragic crash occurred on September 13, 2021 that claimed the life of 29-year-old Wes Honnell of Russellville, his widow, Jessica Honnell, stood before the man who pled guilty for his actions that took her husband’s life.

On Monday, August 1, 2022, Ricky Lee Roberts, 30 of Cove, Arkansas, appeared in Pope County Circuit Court where he entered a plea of guilty to the charges of Negligent Homicide, Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle and Violation of Omnibus DWI Act. Prior to Roberts’ sentencing, Ms. Honnell was given the opportunity to address the man responsible for her husband’s death.

In court, Ms. Honnell stated to Roberts, “September 13, 2021 was the worst day of my life. That morning we started the day as a family of five building our dream home and loving our life together.

At 7:44 a.m., Wes texted me his usual ‘I love you today. Have a good day at work.’ Our 5-month baby girl stayed home with Wes while our 3-year old and 6-year old went to school. It was a normal day and we were simply going back to our house after looking at the progress of our new construction. But at 4:30 p.m., our family would never be together on this earth again.

Wes would spend the next few weeks fighting for his life with extensive injuries to his brain and neck. He fought so hard to say goodbye even though his prognosis was grim. When he woke up despite all odds, the nurse was reading scriptures to him and told him that his wife and kids were so happy to see him again. He looked confused and she assured him that we were all okay. He started crying. When I went into the room, he took his right side that was somewhat functioning and did everything he could to get to me and hold my hand. He always wanted to show me how loved I am. He loved me from the first day we met until he went to Heaven. I was his world and he was mine. We built a beautiful life together over a decade and shared a love that most never experience.

Wes was a man of the highest character. He was greatly respected by his colleagues at work. He worked extremely hard to achieve his goals of being a professional engineer and a Senior Reactor Operator at Arkansas Nuclear One.

But more than an amazing guitarist, walking encyclopedia, and the funniest person I’ve ever known, he was the protector, provider, and leader of our family. The essence of his being was to protect us from anything that life could bring that would harm us. Even though he didn’t choose it, I know he would sacrifice himself for the other four of us every single time. I know that he loved us more than his own life. When he went to Heaven, he went knowing that we were safe.

In the days that have passed we have learned to carry his memory the best that we can. Wesley’s last earthly gift was the gift of life to others. He donated his organs and in September, a year after our accident, a man will walk his daughter down the aisle with Wesley’s heart beating in his chest. I will never stop boasting of Wesley’s character. He was a man of faith and his faith will impact generations to come. Wesley’s earthly body may have died, but his soul is very much alive and his impact on our children will never die.  His life was exemplary and that kind of influence doesn’t fade.

Today I can say without any doubt that Wes would be proud of the choice that you made to take responsibility for your actions. He would applaud you and he would want us all to forgive you fully. So, Mr. Roberts, I want you to know that it is my greatest desire for you to come to know Christ and to live your life the way Wes would’ve lived his-full of forgiveness, love for others, and selflessness. You will always be in my prayers.

Proverbs 17:9 says, ‘love prospers when a fault is forgiven.’ Love will abound because you are forgiven. I forgive you and I love you.”

After Ms. Honnell delivered her statement, Ricky Lee Roberts was sentenced to 30 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

Ms. Honnell states, “Our story is for His glory. Thank you all for your continued love and support for our family and the families who have been so impacted by this tragedy.”