A 32-year-old Augusta man entered an early guilty plea on one count of first-degree murder on Monday, Aug. 13 in Columbia County Superior Court.
The defendant had initially been arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the days after he had allegedly caused a fatal car crash on Interstate 20 on March 6, 2017. A continuing investigation into the crash ultimately resulted in the charges being upgraded to first-degree soon thereafter.
Factors that resulted in the charges being upgraded included police finding out that the driver had been operating his vehicle in a construction zone at the time it occurred.
Witnesses that they'd spoken with had reported seeing the defendant both speeding and driving recklessly as he approached the area surrounding Exit 191. Soon thereafter, they reportedly saw the rear-end of his pickup up collide with the decedent's vehicle.
By the time emergency crews arrived on the scene, the 23-year-old operator of the other vehicle that was struck had apparently expired. He was later identified as a staff sergeant in the Air Force. It's unclear what relationship existed between the man and his two injured passengers also in the car at the time.
There was apparently no evidence produced that would explain why the motorist was driving aggressively that day. It does not appear that he was intoxicated at the time.
Soon after entering his plea on Monday, the judge presiding over the matter sentenced the defendant to four years of incarceration followed by five years of supervised release. It's unclear if he's been locked up this whole time while awaiting trial.
Individuals who suffer injuries in car crashes are entitled to compensation for suffering as well as reimbursement of medical expenses and lost wages. Loved ones of those who are killed in crashes can recover compensation for their wrongful death. An Augusta motor vehicle accidents attorney can advise you what different recovery options that you're entitled to for your own suffering.