A Texas truck driver objected when McClain County prosecutors dismissed a misdemeanor negligent homicide charge against him and refiled it as first-degree manslaughter.
Johnny L. Spradlin, 58, of Benbrook, Texas, was found at fault by a traffic homicide investigator with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
Spradlin posted $35,000 bond following his initial appearance in McClain County District Court on the felony charge.
His preliminary hearing conference will be at 9 a.m. January 13.
The charge stems from a fatality wreck that occurred March 2 on I-35 near mile marker 82.
According to an affidavit, the OHP investigation of the fatality wreck determined three vehicles were involved – a 2016 Volvo semi driven by Spradlin, a 2016 Chevrolet Traverse driven by Julia Kraus and a 2018 Freightliner semi.
All were northbound on the interstate and approached a construction zone that included a lane closure.
The semi Spradlin was driving struck the rear of the Traverse, sending it off the highway to the east.
Kraus, 63, of Davis, was killed in the collision.
Spradlin’s truck then continued northbound and collided with the Freightliner.
During interviews, Spradlin admitted he was inattentive while driving just before the wreck, according to the affidavit.
He reportedly said he’d looked down briefly at his electronic logbook and when he looked back up, traffic had slowed and he was unable to stop.
Event data recorders from all three vehicles showed the Traverse was traveling around 16 mph. Spradlin’s truck was moving approximately 60 mph when it struck the smaller vehicle.
A blood sample was drawn from Spradlin approximately two hours after the wreck revealed he had a blood alcohol content of 0.03.
He reportedly admitted drinking two bottles of wine the previous evening.
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