LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) – Clinton Haskins, a University of Wyoming student accused of causing a drunken driving collision that killed eight fellow student-athletes, changed his plea to guilty Thursday on eight counts of aggravated vehicular homicide.
Haskins, 21, of Maybell, Colo., took the stand during a 15-minute hearing and was asked by his attorney, Michael Krampner, if he was responsible for the head-on wreck on Sept. 16.
If I had not drove, they would be alive, Haskins replied, looking at family members of the victims.
The guilty pleas were accepted under an agreement in which prosecutor Cal Rerucha will recommend a penalty of 14 to 20 years in prison for each count, with the terms to run at the same time, and the defense will ask for 10 to 15 years per count, also to run concurrently.
Haskins recalled the crash in tears, saying he was drinking with friends the night of the wreck and decided to drive to Fort Collins, Colo. He agreed with a report that indicated his blood-alcohol level was 0.16 percent, which is above the legal limit of 0.10, and said he was too drunk to drive.
His parents, family and friends also were at the hearing.
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Restitution and fines would be determined by District Judge Jeffrey A. Donnell, according to Donnells law clerk, Tori Kricken. Donnell ordered a presentence investigation and reserved the right to reject the agreement depending on the investigation results.
If Donnell rejects the agreement, Haskins could withdraw his pleas and go to trial. Trial is now scheduled for Feb. 25, but it likely will be postponed to allow time for the background check.
Haskins southbound 1995 one-ton Chevrolet pickup truck veered into the oncoming lane of U.S. 287 about 17 miles south of Laramie about 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 16. It collided head-on with a 1990 Jeep Wagoneer carrying eight UW track and cross-country athletes. All eight were killed. Haskins, a UW senior and rodeo athlete, survived but was hospitalized five days with a concussion and other injuries.
Killed in the wreck were Joshua D. Jones, 22, of Salem, Ore.; Kevin L. Salverson, 19, of Cheyenne; Nicholas J. Schabron, 20, of Laramie; Shane E. Shatto, 19, of Douglas; Morgan J. McLeland, 21, of Gillette; Kyle N. Johnson, 20, of Riverton; Justin M. Lambert-Belanger, 20, of Timmins, Ontario; and Cody B. Brown, 21, of Hudson, Colo.
Haskins could receive up to 160 years in prison and up to $80,000 in fines. He remains free on $100,000 bond.
After the hearing, John Schabron, father of victim Nicholas Schabron, said his family is relieved that Haskins admitted his guilt. He also said U.S. 287 should be widened to four lanes, calling it a matter of public urgency.
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