Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON — A Mayfield man faces up to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of second degree manslaughter Monday.
Michael K. Williams, 28, pleaded guilty to those charges and to one count each of second offense driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, first degree wanton endangerment and to driving with a suspended or revoked license. The total sentence he will serve could be 12 years.
Williams was at the wheel at the time of a Sept. 24, 2011 wreck. Killed in the wreck were Kaytlin E. Lamb, 21, and Michael Hoy, Jr.. 34, both of Benton. Two other passengers were injured in the wreck, while Williams escaped without harm.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Mark Blankenship said the plea agreement offered was decided upon through a mediation process. Blankenship described the process as including prosecutors, victims, law enforcement, the defendant and defense attorneys. While common to civil suits, Marshall County is one of the few to try mediation to reach plea agreements in criminal trials.
“I think it’s a very good process because victims and police are actively involved in the sentencing,” Blankenship said. “Often, victims are angry because they may not be satisfied with a plea agreement. It’s tough to come up with something fair, but in this case, we came out with the maximum punishment for second-degree manslaughter.”
At the time of the wreck, Blankenship indicated Williams could face charges of murder. He added criminal cases taken before a mediator are settled in Marshall County about half of the time.
Blankenship said the guilty plea resolves questions about Williams’ intoxication.
“These were all young people at a social event in McCracken County,” Blankenship said. “The victims were intoxicated, too. Williams blood alcohol content was .04, which is less than .08, which is the legal limit. We believe there was strong evidence of marijuana use, which combined with the alcohol, caused the accident.
Blankenship said victims, families and police were all satisfied with the deal. He added he expects families to strongly oppose parole, and expected Williams’ chances of early release to be slim.
Marshall Circuit Judge Dennis Foust accepted the deal after asking Williams if he understood and admitted his guilt and the penalties he faces. Formal sentencing will be held on Aug. 7.