By PETER HUSSMANN
The Newton man charged following the St. Patrick's Day crash that claimed the lives of two teenage brothers plead guilty on Monday to reduced charges of involuntary manslaughter.
Joseph Dean Stoner, 19, entered the guilty pleas before District Court Judge Gregory Hulse after Jasper County Attorney Mike Jacobsen filed an amended and substituted trial information that contained the two Class D felony counts.
Judge Hulse set sentencing for Jan. 23, 2012.
Stoner was originally charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, Class B felonies, for allegedly causing the deaths of brothers David Edward Stattleman, 16, and Dakota Charles Stattleman, 14, following a single-vehicle crash reported at 4:40 a.m. in the 4600 block of South 36th Avenue West on March 17.
Stoner's attorney, John Billingsley, however, had filed motions asking that the vehicular homicide charges be dismissed because expert testimony he planned to introduce at the jury trial previously set to begin next week indicated Stoner was not likely driving the pickup truck at the time of the fatal crash.
A hearing on those motions had previously been set to be heard in Jasper County District Court on Wednesday.
The amended trial information containing the involuntary manslaughter counts alleges that Stoner "unlawfully and unintentionally" caused the death of the two Stattleman brothers "by the reckless commission of the crime of allowing an unauthorized person to operate his motor vehicle in a reckless manner."
A Class B felony carries a penalty of up to 25 years in prison. A Class D felony, to which Stoner plead guilty, carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, plus the potential for fines.
Judge Hulse ordered that a pre-sentence investigation report be commenced.