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Utah woman takes plea deal in alleged texting-while-driving death

Utah woman takes plea deal in alleged texting-while-driving death

(Jud Burkett/The Spectrum & Dai/File)

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ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — A woman accused of causing a fatal car crash when she was texting and driving has agreed to a plea deal.

Carla Brennan, 52, pleaded no contest Monday to a reduced automobile homicide charge during an emotional hearing in a St. George courtroom.

She was accused in the death of David Henson, 56, of Santa Clara.

Prosecutors say he was walking on a sidewalk with his wife, Leslee Henson, in March 2013 when Brennan rear-ended another car, sending it careening into the couple.

Leslee Henson also suffered serious injuries in the crash.

Brennan had denied using her phone behind the wheel, asserting she had texted from home to say she was late for work.

But investigators say messages were sent within minutes of the accident and Brennan was traveling nearly 60 mph in a 40 mph zone.

Leslee Henson said she was satisfied with the plea and glad to avoid dredging up bad memories during a trial.

"I just felt like our family has forgiven Carla, and we know it wasn't something she set out to do that day," Henson told the Spectrum newspaper of St. George.

Henson has become an advocate for tougher distracted driving laws, including new restrictions recently passed by the Utah Legislature.

She's also filed a lawsuit against Brennan and the other driver involved in the crash and the dealer who sold Brennan her car, claiming he didn't require proof of insurance.

Medical and funeral costs topped $200,000, according to a separate lawsuit from the Hensons' insurance company.

Monday's deal is not expected to affect that case because it's not a direct guilty plea.

Defense attorney Edward Flint said Brennan is a normal person who made a bad mistake.

"It's a terrible, terrible thing," he said.

She's been living and working in Arizona, and plans to use everything she earns beyond living and medical expenses to help pay $200,000 restitution in the case, he said.

Brennan could face up to a year in jail at sentencing set for Sept. 2. She is also expected to serve three years' probation.


Information from: The Spectrum,

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