Hardin man gets prison for vehicular homicide

2013-01-08T14:06:00Z 2014-08-25T16:14:28Z Hardin man gets prison for vehicular homicideBy GREG TUTTLE gtuttle@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

A Hardin man who caused a fatal drunken-driving crash while fleeing police has been sentenced to prison.

Dustin Wegner, 24, recently appeared before Big Horn County District Judge Blair Jones and pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide for the crash that killed 21-year-old Kenneth Russell Woody IV on Dec. 15, 2011.

Because Wegner was on probation at the time of the deadly crash for a DUI crash in 2010, a presentence investigation report was waived by the prosecution and Wegner's defense attorney.

Jones immediately sentenced Wegner, agreeing to follow a joint recommendation in a plea agreement of 20 years at Montana State Prison, with 15 years suspended.

The judge also ordered Wegner to pay $755 in restitution, and he recommended Wegner for a state boot camp program.

Wegner was sentenced Jan. 3. A trial had been scheduled to begin Monday.

The plea agreement states that Wegner would serve the sentence concurrent with the six-year deferred sentence he received for the drunken-driving crash in 2010 that injured four people. 

The agreement also states that a second felony charge of eluding and a misdemeanor count of not wearing a seat belt filed in the most recent case would be dismissed. 

Woody was a passenger in a pickup truck driven by Wegner. The two men had been at a Christmas party where Wegner consumed eight or nine drinks, prosecutors said.

A sheriff's deputy saw the truck driven by Wegner speeding through downtown Hardin at about 11:30 p.m., and a chase ensued.

The chase ended when the truck crashed south of town on Secondary Highway 313. The deputy estimated that the truck was going at least 90 mph when the driver lost control and the truck flipped several times.

Wegner and Woody were thrown from the truck.

Wegner initially said he was alone in the truck, prosecutors said in court records. Deputies heard noises and found Woody pinned underneath the truck. He died the next day at a Billings hospital.

Prosecutors said Wegner had a blood-alcohol level of 0.28 percent shortly after the crash, more than three times the state legal limit of .08. 

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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