Sunday, June 16th 2019, 1:10 am
The trial for a man originally charged with first-degree manslaughter after crashing into a Sac and Fox Nation police officer has finally ended.
Late Friday night, defendant Justin Henley, 21, took a plea deal after the jury could not agree upon a verdict.
“They came back not guilty on manslaughter one. They came back not guilty on manslaughter two. And they came back guilty on misdemeanor negligent homicide. But then, upon a pole in the jury, asking the jury if that was their verdict, because it has to be unanimous, one of the jurors said it was not their verdict,” said Defense Attorney John Hunsucker.
This caused the jury to have to re-deliberate.
At that point, the two parties decided to come together and agree on what they said was a realistic solution. Where justice was served for both Justin Henley, and the family of Sac and Fox Officer Nathan Graves.
“The reality is that our client was facing up to life in prison. And he got two years. He’ll serve nine or ten months and he will be home. Put this behind him and go on with his life,” said Defense Attorney David Slane.
Henley pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the second-degree, and the State's recommendation was two years in the Department of Corrections, and a small fine.
The trial started Monday, June 10, after waiting more than two years for their day in court.
Investigators say Henley crashed head-on into Officer Graves, January 24, 2017, after passing a vehicle in an alleged "no passing zone" on State Highway 99.
Officer Graves died on scene, and Henley was originally charged with first-degree manslaughter.
But after the jury could not come to an agreement Friday, the plea deal of guilty to manslaughter in the second degree was agreed upon.
“The victim’s family was willing to do that. Obviously, this was a tragedy for everybody involved. And they wanted to just put it behind them and move on,” said Assistant District Attorney Greg Wilson.
Much of the debate throughout the week was about the striping on that stretch of rural highway. Whether the "no passing zone" was clearly visible due to poor road conditions.
“Do we miss the brother-in-law? Of course, we do. But for my sister’s sake, it’s over,” said family member of Officer Graves, James Keene.
Henley’s formal sentencing date is scheduled for July.
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