- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A Charles County man indicted for vehicular manslaughter in a 2012 fatal crash in St. Mary’s County was ordered Monday in court to report to jail through an agreement calling for him to serve 18 months in custody before pleading guilty to the offense.
Jason Michael Denton, 25, of White Plains told a judge that he would drive from the courthouse and have a breath-alcohol ignition interlock system attached to his vehicle, and report to the detention facility in Leonardtown, where he will be on work release during his time in custody.
St. Mary’s Circuit Judge Michael J. Stamm revoked Denton’s pretrial release in the case, noting that Denton’s “actual plea date” will take place after he finishes the 18 months.
“I’m not taking your plea today,” the judge said.
St. Mary’s County Assistant State’s Attorney Jaymi Sterling said after Monday’s brief court hearing that the agreement considered justice for the family of Denton’s slain passenger, the appropriate punishment, Denton’s rehabilitation, public safety, and what was fair and just given Denton’s remorse for what happened on the afternoon of Feb. 5, 2012.
Denton was driving a pickup truck on New Market Turner Road toward its intersection with Route 235 in Oraville, according to Maryland State Police, when it went out of control, crossed the road’s center line and hit a tree near some of the Korner Karryout’s gas pumps. Killed in the 5:48 p.m. crash was 32-year-old Paul Stewart Burnett, who lived a short distance away.
Burnett’s father-in-law said afterward that Denton and Burnett, who worked together for a crane service company, were traveling to the store to get snacks, beverages and cigarettes to bring back to Burnett’s house, where family members and friends had gathered to watch the Super Bowl.
Sterling said after Denton was indicted last February that a police investigation determined that he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.14 percent, nearly twice the legal limit, and that the truck was going more than 90 mph.
The prosecutor said Monday that Denton already has paid $10,000 in restitution for the expense of Burnett’s funeral.
“He wanted to pay it up front,” Sterling said, before a November 2014 plea and sentencing proceeding.
“We have the defendant’s genuine remorse. That played a big part in our plea negotiations,” she said. “We tried to figure out what would be fair, and bring justice to the victim’s family.”
Sterling said Denton will serve the full 18 months, with no good-time credits or parole consideration during that period of incarceration. A 10-year sentence would be suspended to the time served, and the agreement also calls for Denton to perform 100 hours of community service during the first two years of five years of supervised probation.
Burnett’s widow agreed to the resolution of the case, and family members of both men attended Monday’s court hearing.