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Driver gets 16 months in death of passenger on I-5

D.A. drops charges of gun possession in plea deal

Posted: April 29, 2013 4:50 p.m.
Updated: April 29, 2013 4:50 p.m.

SAN FERNANDO — A Bakersfield man arrested in the February traffic death of a Las Vegas woman entered a plea of no contest Monday to the charge of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in exchange for 16 months’ jail time.

James Samuel Buterbaugh, 25, of Bakersfield, was charged with vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, possessing a “large capacity magazine” of ammunition and carrying a loaded handgun that was not registered, according to a copy of the criminal complaint filed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and obtained by The Signal.

Prosecutors with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, however, pursued just the manslaughter charge in proceedings at San Fernando Superior Court Monday.

On Feb. 3, shortly after 4 a.m., Meagan Elizabeth Carrier, 24, died when the 2007 Honda Pilot in which she was a passenger slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer stopped on the right shoulder just south of Templin Highway on the northbound Interstate 5, California Highway Patrol Officer Michael Gubelli said at the time.

Buterbaugh was charged shortly after the crash and arraigned Feb. 11.

On Monday, wearing a red-and-black-checked shirt, he stood before Superior Court Judge Michael O’Gara with his hands behind his back and pleaded no contest to California penal code section 191.5.

O’Gara asked him if he understood that a plea of “no contest” would be interpreted by the court as a guilty plea.
Buterbaugh said yes.

The judge advised Buterbaugh further that could request he be sentenced by O’Gara if he wanted.

He then cited the terms of the plea deal arranged by prosecutors calling for a sentence of 16 months in custody — rather than the maximum penalty under state law of four years in prison.

Buterbaugh asked to be sentenced on a day his family could be present in court and was ordered back to court June 28 for sentencing.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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