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Montana man pleads guilty to murder in drunk driving case

A tragic accident on the Crow Reservation last year has resulted in a murder conviction for one of the drivers involved. The 26-year-old man pleaded guilty to second degree murder in a case arising out of the accident in which four people died. The drunk driving accident serves as a stark reminder of the deadly consequences of drinking and driving.

The young man admitted he was intoxicated when his Dodge Durango was involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle. Prosecutors alleged the defendant crossed the center line and struck the other vehicle. The man's blood alcohol level, tested approximately one hour after the accident, was 0.257, which is over three times the Montana legal limit of 0.08. Testing also revealed the presence of drugs in his system.

Three people in the other car died, as well as a passenger in the defendant's car.

The young man will be sentenced sometime in March of 2013. At that time the families of the victims may get some sense that justice has been served. But whatever the sentence, the criminal case will not help the victims' families as they struggle to cope financially with the loss of their loved ones.

In Montana, those who have lost a family member due to another's negligence or wrongful conduct have the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. While no amount of money can bring back a deceased loved one, the law does provide that the next of kin are entitled to be compensated. The compensation includes not only loss of financial support, but also loss of companionship.

Source: Billings Gazette, "Drunk driver who killed 4 pleads to 2nd-degree murder," Lorna Thackeray, Dec. 18, 2012

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