Driver in washout fatality to be sentenced

Published 10:03 am Friday, May 14, 2010

The driver of the sport-utility truck that crashed into a washout on Freeborn County Road 34 in June 2008, in which two people died, is slated to be sentenced in Freeborn County District Court today for two counts of criminal vehicular homicide.

Charles Kenneth Dennison pleaded guilty to the charges in March as part of his second plea agreement in the case.

He initially faced nine counts of criminal vehicular operation and six counts of criminal vehicular homicide for the death of Kelly Jo Abrego of Myrtle and Kelly John Pechumer of Albert Lea. They were two of the five passengers he had in his truck the night of the crash.

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As part of the plea agreement, both Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson and Dennison’s lawyer, Cean F. Shands, are recommending a 24-month prison term.

The agreement came about six months after Dennison’s first plea agreement was denied by District Court Judge Steve Schwab because it didn’t include a sentence in prison.

It will be up to Schwab a second time to decide whether to follow the sentencing

recommendations in the agreement.

According to police reports, Dennisonon June 29, 2008, drove a 2003 Chevy Avalanche around the right side of “road closed” barricades on County 34 and 778 feet later was going 40 mph southbound when the sport-utility truck crashed into a washout, killing Abrego and Pechumer. The washout had been present on the eastern Freeborn County byway since heavy rains on the night of June 11, 2008. In a separate incident, a man died in the wee hours of June 12, driving into the washout.

The court files state Dennison’s blood-alcohol level was found to be a 0.16 level when measured via blood sample two hours after the crash.

All of Dennison’s passengers in the sport-utility truck were also under the influence of alcohol, according to the files.

They had gone to a town festival in Lyle from Abrego’s house in Myrtle and were taking a roundabout way from Lyle back to Myrtle.