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Teen pleads guilty to vehicular homicide, DUI

4:38 PM, May 14, 2008   |    comments
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Nanette LaFleur appeared in court and pleaded guilty to vehicular assault, driving under the influence, a class three felony; and vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, a class four felony.

LaFleur will receive a prison sentence suspended on the condition that she successfully complete four years in the Youthful Offender System. YOS is operated by the State Department of Corrections.

Her official sentencing is set for July 9 at 9 a.m.

Seventeen-year-old Samara Stricklen was killed during the March 13, 2007 crash at West Alameda and Florida Avenue. She was a passenger in 20-year-old Seth Mutschler's car when it was hit. Mutschler was injured.

The plea agreement comes with the consent of the victim's parents.

"The thing that still disturbs me is that it took a year and a half for us to finally get to this point, where she pled guilty," said Bill Stricklen, Samara's father.

He spoke through an interpreter using sign language.

"We lost a significant part of our life in Samara. We can't bring her back. That's the thing that I feel we can't forget," he said.

Investigators initially believed 16-year-old Alison Bowen was driving the car that caused the crash. Bowen pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to influence a public servant and one count of driving under the influence of alcohol, and was sentenced to 45 days in a juvenile detention center and two years probation.

It was later determined that LaFleur was driving the car. In June, a grand jury indicted her on nine counts including three counts of vehicular homicide, two counts of attempting to influence a public servant and one count each of vehicular assault, possession of marijuana, underage possession of alcohol and a minor driving with a passenger under the age of 21.

Bowen and LaFleur are two of six people charged in the crash.

The man accused of selling liquor to the teens, Van Thien Pham, was also in court on Wednesday and pleaded guilty to 10 counts of providing alcohol to minors.

Each carries a potential jail sentence of up to 18 months and fine of up to $5,000. He was also charged with additional sales of liquor to minors. Pham's sentencing has been set for July 9 at 1 p.m.

"It's not just these teenagers that he sold it to, but he sold it to other teenagers as well," said Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey.

Storey says this, in essence, brings to an end the prosecution of all the people involved in the crash and says he hopes it sends a message to other teens.

"I can't tell you how many families I've sat down with that have lost loved ones, young loved ones, because of this type of thing," he said. "I wish some of these kids could sit with me."

Samara Stricklen's father says he hopes everyone involved remembers who was lost that day.

"Remember what they did to our daughter," said Bill Stricklen. "Daily, we're still grieving."

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