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SALT LAKE CITY — A Syracuse man has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of automobile homicide after hitting and killing a cyclist while drunk in 2014.
Peter Vance Wilcox, 38, pleaded guilty Friday to automobile homicide negligence by DUI in the death of Mitchell Bennett, 50, an avid cyclist and bike builder. Wilcox registered a blood-alcohol level of .228 in a breath test, or nearly three times the legal limit, when police say he hit Mitchell's bicycle on Sept. 25, 2014.
The charge will be entered as a class A misdemeanor when Wilcox is sentenced May 23, according to his attorney, Scott Williams. Wilcox was originally charged in 3rd District Court with a third-degree felony.
The charge as a misdemeanor carries a potential sentence of up to a year in jail while a felony charge could lead to up to five years in prison.
Police say Wilcox hit Bennett just after 11 p.m. as he was riding side-by-side with another cyclist on 900 West near 3160 South. Wilcox's vehicle apparently dragged the bicycle "several hundred feet" before stopping, charges state. The bike was found with its rear tire still wedged beneath the bumper of the vehicle, the lights on its rear-lighting system still flashing.
Bennett hit the windshield, suffering severe head, neck and back injuries. He died at the hospital five days later.
Wilcox abandoned his vehicle after the crash and was spotted walking away by Bennett's cycling companion, the charges state. When police confronted him, he initially claimed the vehicle wasn't his.