An Oklahoma City man pleaded guilty last month to second degree manslaughter as part of a plea agreement following a fatal car accident that killed his girlfriend. On Friday, he was sentenced according to his plea.
Initially, Erick Brandon Moore, 38, was charged with first degree manslaughter after the accident. He has a history of prior drug charges, but police determined there was no evidence that he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he ran a stop sign on August 8, 2015.
He pleaded guilty to an amended charge of second degree manslaughter in a plea agreement that was agreed upon by the family members of the victim. In his plea paperwork, he admitted that he was negligent when he failed to stop at the stop sign. This negligence caused another vehicle to strike his pickup, throwing his girlfriend from the vehicle, fatally injuring her.
Oklahoma County District Judge Cindy Truong handed down a 15-year suspended sentence, meaning Moore will not serve prison time for the conviction, but will remain on probation for 15 years. If he violates probation, the District Attorney's Office can file a motion to revoke the suspension, sending him to prison for the remainder of the sentence.
Oklahoma law defines first degree manslaughter as any homicide that occurs under one or more of the following circumstances:
1. When perpetrated without a design to effect death by a person while engaged in the commission of a misdemeanor.
2. When perpetrated without a design to effect death, and in a heat of passion, but in a cruel and unusual manner, or by means of a dangerous weapon; unless it is committed under such circumstances as constitute excusable or justifiable homicide.
3. When perpetrated unnecessarily either while resisting an attempt by the person killed to commit a crime, or after such attempt shall have failed.
A fatal DUI accident is frequently charged as first degree manslaughter, because it occurs during the commission of a misdemeanor; in Oklahoma, a first DUI offense is a misdemeanor. When a fatal DUI accident occurs during the commission of a repeat DUI offense, a felony, it is charged as second degree murder.
In this case, however, it appears that there was no evidence of DUI. Instead, it appears to be a case of reckless driving. The defendant pleaded guilty to an amended charge of second degree manslaughter. Oklahoma law defines second degree manslaughter as "[e]very killing of one human being by the act, procurement or culpable negligence of another, which, under the provisions of this chapter, is not murder, nor manslaughter in the first degree, nor excusable nor justifiable homicide."
First degree manslaughter is a felony punishable by a minimum of four years in prison. Second degree manslaughter is punishable by two to four years in prison.
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