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Man to serve 7-plus years in drinking and driving case

A man who pleaded no contest to a drinking and driving charge that resulted in a man's death will spend at least 87 months of a 22 ½-year sentence in prison, a Circuit Court judge ruled.

The man, 31, of Battle Creek, Michigan, admitted he had been drinking the evening in March 2010 before an accident that caused the death of a 21-year-old passenger. At the sentencing, the man said that while he did not remember the accident, he was sorry about the death of his close friend.

Police and prosecutors said the accident occurred after the two men, joined by another friend, celebrated with others at a birthday party in Springfield. After the three men left the party, the driver lost control of the Jeep in which they were riding and hit a fence. The driver pulled away from that crash site and headed back on the road, hitting another car. That second collision forced the Jeep to roll over, and the victim later died at the scene of the accident.

The man stood trial on charges of second-degree murder in Calhoun County Circuit Court in May, but the jury could not reach a verdict. The man's defense team said he was not the driver of the car.

As they readied for the next trial, the prosecutors lined up several witnesses to say the man was driving. Rather than face a second trial, the man pleaded no contest to the lesser charges.

In issuing the sentence, the judge said that even though the jury could not reach a conclusion, the facts as he saw them could have warranted conviction on even more significant charges.

When facing charges, it is beneficial for defendants to weigh the charges and evidence to determine their course of action. In some cases, a plea of no contest to lesser charges can result in a lesser sentence.

Source: Battle Creek Enquirer, "Prison sentence in drunken driving death," Trace Christenson, Aug. 2, 2012

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