WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.: Jurors rejected a plea by prosecutors to sentence Thomas Richard Jones to death for killing two college students while driving intoxicated, instead giving him to life in prison without parole. The case is believed to be the first time the state has sought the death penalty in a DWI charge. Prosecutors made the move after a recent wave of drunk-driving slayings provoked public outrage, reports TIME's Lisa Towle. "There have been several other high profile cases statewide lately, one in which a four year old girl was killed by a man driving while drunk." North Carolina law says that anyone who kills while committing a separate dangerous felony can be prosecuted for first-degree murder, punishable by the death penalty, whether the death was intentional or not. Prosecutors said Jones committed two felonies, reckless driving while impaired and assault with a deadly weapon. Although jurors agreed enough with the prosecution's argument to return a first degree murder conviction on Friday, they declined to sentence him to death. They may have been moved by Joy Witzl, the mother of one of the victims, who said she did not want to see Jones die.