Man With Extensive History of DWI Convictions Pleads Guilty

A Missouri man who has an extensive criminal history with about 150 arrests for various traffic violations was sentenced to a five-year prison term after causing a fatal accident. The defendant, age 56, made a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter. Had the case gone to trial, the man would have faced charges of vehicular assault and second-degree murder.

The defendant is accused of causing a hit-and-run accident that killed a 4-year-old boy and injured that boy’s 10-year-old brother. That incident occurred in early October 2012, when the defendant reportedly smashed into the two victims as they crossed a road on foot. The younger victim died at the scene. Officers were later able to locate the man’s truck and tie it to the incident.

The defendant in this case chose to pursue a plea bargain with prosecutors. Those state attorneys said they were having difficulty building a case against the man for the second-degree murder and assault charges, so they opted for a plea bargain instead. Attorneys said that they were having difficulty proving that the driver was intoxicated at the time of the collision. Further, weather and road conditions could have played a role in the crash. Although guilty pleas can be advantageous in some criminal cases, it is important to realize that they are not appropriate for every incident.

Defendants with multiple offenses like this man — who had nearly a dozen DWI arrests on his record — may benefit from considering a plea deal. The man had served less than two years’ prison time for his previous DWI convictions, even though repeat offenders can be sentenced to up to 15 years behind bars. This case demonstrates the flexibility that can sometimes accompany criminal sentencing protocol.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Chronic DWI offender sentenced to 5 years in prison for Pagedale crash that killed boy, 4” Joel Currier, Jun. 17, 2014

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