A Utah truck driver has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in the death last summer of Hailey philanthropist Dayle Evan Fowler.
According to court records, 47-year-old Byrus Lyndon Gatewood, of West Valley, Utah, entered his guilty plea Monday in Jerome County 5th District Court. Sentencing before Judge John K. Butler is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on June 11.
Butler's guilty plea, in accord with a plea agreement with the Jerome County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, averted a jury trial that was scheduled to begin on May 16. Other terms of the plea agreement were not available in the court file.
Gatewood was originally charged with felony vehicular manslaughter in the death of Fowler on June 28, 2011 in a construction zone on U.S. Highway 93 in Jerome County. According to Idaho State Police, Fowler was outside of her vehicle waiting for traffic to be allowed through the zone when she was struck by a tractor-trailer rig driven by Gatewood.
The difference between felony vehicular manslaughter and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, as defined by Idaho law, is that the felony charge requires that "gross negligence" be proven against a defendant. The misdemeanor charge does not require that burden of proof.
Felony vehicular manslaughter is punishable in Idaho by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, while misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter is punishable in the state by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
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