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Man Pleads Guilty in Drunk Driving Death

A Monroe man pleaded guilty to charges of driving while impaired and second degree murder, stemming from a car accident that ended in the death of a Marshville man in October. The 29-year-old suspect, who has prior drunk driving convictions, entered his guilty plea on Monday.

Before the crash on October 24, police had tried to pull over the man on Secrest Short Cut Road at Euclid Street. However, police officers say he raced away at 75 mph. Shortly thereafter, his pickup truck collided with another truck, killing its passenger.

Because the man has an extensive history of driving under the influence, he was sentenced in Union County Court to serve between 17 ¼ and 21 ½ years for the incident. Prior to the fatal accident in October, he had been convicted of five DWIs. He received his first DWI in 1998 at the age of 17. This was followed by further DWI convictions in 2000, 2001 and 2004. He was also charged with DWI in both Mecklenburg County and Union County in 2006.

Ike Avery, a former attorney for the North Carolina Highway Patrol said the man obviously suffers from a severe substance abuse problem. Avery says the man could have been sent to prison for significant periods of time in the past, but that never occurred.

According to Union County District Attorney John Snyder, prosecutors attempted to land the man in prison for his fifth DWI. The prosecutors had charged him with a Level 1 DWI, which is a misdemeanor charge that carries a two-year maximum sentence, instead of a habitual DWI charge, which is a felony with a non-year minimum prison sentence. Although they believed he would end up serving more time, he ended up not going to prison.

In 2007, the man was given a 24-month suspended sentence, three years supervised probation and 90 days of inpatient treatment.

Source: Charlotte Observer "Monroe driver pleads guilty in DWI death," Cleve R. Wootson Jr. & Steve Lyttle, 15 December 2010

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