News 12 at 6, November 6, 2008
VALDOSTA, Ga.---Here's a rare look at a life behind bars. It's a story of a man who killed his friend and how he's living with the consequences of his actions. It's the words of a killer.
This is the story about repercussions for bad actions. It's the story of a friend killing a friend. And now the survivor has to live with that fact for the rest of his life. The first 10 years of which he'll spend behind the cold and lonely walls of Valdosta State Prison.
"They call me big AL on the streets. I was known for chugging, funneling." Ronald Alan Sinyard says he came from a culture of drinking. A culture where beer was just a way of life. But on the night of November 5, 2006, that culture and Ronald's decisions took him down a path of death and destruction.
"I had called my momma. I said I was in a wreck." That's a few of the tiny pieces Alan remembers from that night. That night, the then 20-year-old had a lot to drink at a party. He decided to drive his truck, with a person he calls a friend, a teenager named Joey Huckaby, asleep in the backseat.
Before long, the truck went off the road and eventually started flipping. Joey Huckaby was thrown out. In a drunken stupor, Alan tried CPR.
"I could taste blood in my mouth. I thought he was breathing cause every time i push air into him, it sounded like he was breathing back out. It was my air pushing out of him." he remembered.
Joey didn't survive.
The chief prosecutor says Sinyard's blood alcohol level was almost double the legal limit for someone over 21. As a minor, this was Alan's 2nd DUI.
That night of drinking and the deadly car crash led Alan Sinyard here to Valdosta State Prison where he'll spend the next 10 years.
So now, for Alan, home is where the razor wire is. He's prisoner 129634 here at a desolate and callous place that houses murderers, rapists, sexual predators, and Alan Sinyard.
"They can do whatever they want to in here. This ain't my kind of life. It's hard to be the same person you was when you come in this environment." he said.
When we met with Alan, it had been almost 10 months since he was sentenced and it had been almost 2 years since he killed Joey Huckaby.
Reporter: "Would you say what you are serving is an appropriate punishment for what you did?"
Sinyard: "I can't put a time on my buddy's death. I don't know what "appropriate" would be."
Reporter: "Are you a different person?"
Sinyard: "My whole family has been saved. I'm an ordained minister now."
But even a relationship with God can't save him from the memory of the person he killed.
Reporter: "When you take a look at this picture (of Joey Huckaby), what do you think about?"
Sinyard: "Man had a whole life ahead of him. 17 years old and could have done anything. I took it from him. His family lost a good son."
But still the question is why? Why did Joey Huckaby have to die? Why did Alan Sinyard continue to run such a reckless lifestyle after already having a DUI?
"It's kinda like a badge of honor. Everybody thought it was cool to have a DUI. They can lose their license. A lot of people can learn from that, but that wasn't what I needed." he told us.
It turns out what Alan says is he needed something horrific to shake him up. Something horrific like Joey Huckaby's death being on his hands.
He had the classes, saw the same advertisements, heard the message: don't drink and drive, but Alan Sinyard never heeded the call.
"I didn't believe the person talking. He's not like me. Nothing like me. People don't listen. They don't understand. This can happen to you too." he said emphatically.
Ronald Alan Sinyard won't be released from prison until 2017. He'll be 31.
And something else we should mention, skeptics say it's easy to find jailhouse Jesus. The true test for Alan will be to walk the walk after he's free.