19-year-old driver enters guilty plea

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 27, 2000

Joshua C.

Thursday, April 27, 2000

Joshua C. Klaiber, the Coal Grove man indicted after a November fatal traffic accident, pleaded guilty Wednesday to vehicular homicide, Lawrence County prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr. said.

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Klaiber entered his plea before a packed courtroom, admitting his involvement in the accidental death of Lee Roy Pauley III, Collier said.

Sentencing in the case will be June 12 in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court. A pre-sentencing investigation will be conducted before the sentencing.

Klaiber, 19, 841 Marion Pike, Coal Grove, was indicted in December on charges of involuntary manslaughter, a third-degree felony, and vehicular homicide, a first-degree misdemeanor.

The manslaughter charge was nollied, or dismissed, after the court granted the state’s motion, Collier said.

"He is facing up to his involvement in this and we felt it was appropriate to proceed on vehicular homicide rather than involuntary manslaughter," Collier said.

Because of traffic accident reconstruction reports and because Klaiber admitted his involvement in the accident, the involuntary manslaughter charge, under the circumstances, is probably overkill, he said.

"This is the kind of thing where you have the tragic death of a young boy, which is unintentional, but it’s what can happen if you take risks with your automobile," Collier said. "On everybody’s side, I think it’s a sad matter."

Accepting only a plea to vehicular homicide is the appropriate way to handle the case," he said.

"The victim’s family was consulted and I think they’re satisfied," Collier said.

Klaiber faces penalties that might include jail time and the loss of his driver’s license.

Grand jurors alleged in December that Klaiber’s actions contributed to the Nov. 6 fatal accident.

Early that morning, Klaiber was driving on Ohio 243 just outside Coal Grove when he apparently lost control of his car, skidded off the left side of the roadway and struck a utility pole, according to an Ohio Highway Patrol report.

Klaiber and a passenger, Christopher Friend, were transported to a Huntington, W.Va., hospital for treatment, the report stated.

Another passenger, Lee Roy Pauley III, 25, of Coal Grove, was pronounced dead shortly after arrival, the report stated.

Lawrence County prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr. said the grand jury considered the manslaughter charge only because the accident involved a traffic offense of failure to control.