Holly Ridge man pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Marine’s death

PENDER COUNTY — Tuesday, a Holly Ridge man pleaded guilty to the involuntary manslaughter of a Marine and reckless driving. William Keith Genens, 58, struck a jogger, First Lieutenant Justice Regine Stewart, with a Ford 150 truck on June 27, 2021.

Stewart was running along Highway 50 in Pender County and is believed to have died on impact. Witnesses heard the crash nearby and said they approached Genens, who pulled over after the incident. He was trying to flag down a passing motorist when the witnesses, homeowners who lived close by, suggested Genens call 911.

According to a release from the district attorney’s office, “he refused and instead called his adult children to get assistance for himself. Motorists’ attempts to aid First Lt. Stewart were unsuccessful.”


There was no proof beyond reasonable doubt that Genens had been impaired at the time of the crash, according to findings from the investigation. The involuntary manslaughter charge was the steepest that could be given with the set of facts available, according to the law.

Genens will spend 16-29 months suspended, plus serve 120 days active in jail. The sentence will be split up; he will serve the first 60 days immediately and the remaining 60 days during December 2021 and 2022, the month of First Stewart’s birthday. Genens also will be placed on supervised probation for 60 months and is ordered to promote driver education in person or by video as part of his sentence.


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