Drunk Driving Fatality Settled Before Trial With Plea Agreement

By Jeff Neumeyer

June 18, 2010 Updated Apr 5, 2010 at 4:31 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- An Allen County man with a long history of troubles behind the wheel pleads guilty in a November drunk driving death.

52-year-old Brian Mansfield took responsibility on Monday for two felonies in a deadly crash that happened around this past Thanksgiving holiday, in which an Ohio woman was killed and her daughter was badly hurt.

Mansfield had nothing to say on his return from court, where he pleaded guilty to an operating while intoxicated causing death charge, and to criminal recklessness.

If the plea is accepted by Judge Fran Gull, he's looking at a 16-year prison sentence.

The accident happened at the intersection of State Roads 101 and 14 near the Ohio-Indiana line.

Mansfield had a blood-alcohol level nearly five times the legal limit when he blew a stop sign in his pickup and smashed into the side of an SUV, killing 45-year-old Jacqueline Yenser and seriously injuring her 14-year-old daughter riding in a passenger seat.

The defense lawyer had tried to keep blood test results from being admitted in a trial, citing a loophole in Indiana's drunk driving law about who is authorized to draw a suspect's blood for analysis.

When Judge Gull ruled in the prosecution's favor, the defense became more open to a plea bargain.

Defense Attorney Nikos Nakos said, "After discussing it at length with Mansfield on Friday, thought it would be in the best interest of his family and the victim's family to get this matter resolved in a manner that it was today. He was very emotional before the hearing. He’s remorseful, very sorry for his conduct, and our prayers are with their families, both families.”

Indiana's NewsCenter asked prosecutors and the Yenser family for comment on the plea deal, but they declined.

Mansfield actually at one time many years ago had his license suspended for life, but he petitioned for and received restoration of his driving privileges in 2000.

In 2002, he was arrested in another drunk driving incident, but eventually the charges were dismissed, opening the way for the fatal crash four and a half months ago.

Under the law, Mansfield can try to get his license back two to five years after his release from prison.

Sentencing in this case is scheduled for May 3rd.

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