Wappapello man pleads guilty to manslaughter in 2007 death

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

BLOOMFIELD, Mo. — A Wappapello, Mo., man charged in connection with the 2007 death of a Bonne Terre, Mo., couple pleaded guilty to manslaughter Monday.

Jason Merrill, 21, pleaded guilty to the Class B felony of first-degree manslaughter due to intoxication. The crime, normally a Class C felony, was raised to a Class B because of his status as a prior and persistent offender.

The Board of Probation and Parole is currently evaluating the case and will bring a sentencing recommendation forth on Aug. 4.

Merrill is accused of causing the fatal July 7 crash on Route J that killed Peter and Susan AuBuchon.

He was originally charged with two counts of the Class B felony of involuntary manslaughter in the first degree, one count of the Class C felony of assault in the second degree and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

Added to those charges in August were two counts of the Class C felony of first-degree involuntary manslaughter due to intoxication and two counts of the Class D felony of second-degree involuntary manslaughter.

Merrill was arrested July 10 on a warrant for a probation violation.

Two prior convictions for the Class B felony of second-degree burglary are why he was charged as a prior and persistent offender. If convicted, a Class B felony with enhanced punishment holds a punishment of not less than 10 years and not more than 30.

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