Traverse City Record-Eagle

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August 26, 2013

Deal reached in crash case involving Grayling golf team

KALKASKA — A motorist involved in a triple fatal crash in Kalkaska County entered a no contest plea to a misdemeanor charge.

Authorities said Rhonda Mitchell, 45, of Kalkaska, was speeding and had drugs in her system when the minivan she drove collided with another minivan that carried members of the Grayling High School golf team on April 29.

The crash killed Grayling Golf Coach Jason Potter, 31, Mitchell’s daughter, Cassandra Stapleton, 27, of Kalkaska, and Louis Menard, 18, of Grayling. Mitchell and five others were injured.

Kalkaska County Prosecutor Mike Perreault said Mitchell entered a no contest plea in court Monday to a misdemeanor charge of committing a moving violation causing death. It was unclear Monday evening if the plea was to a single count or to one count for each death.

Mitchell also originally faced additional felony charges of manslaughter with a motor vehicle. Perreault said those charges were dismissed in the plea agreement. The plea deal was reached after he consulted with both attorneys for the victims’ families and family members of the deceased.

“They were a great help in this,” Perreault said of the victims’ family members and their representatives.

“If there is something to take away from this tragedy, it’s that we hope to deter careless drivers and their actions,” Perreault said.

Perreault would not discuss what potential sentence Mitchell faces when she is sentenced by Judge Lynne Buday in 46th Circuit Court on Oct. 2. A guilty plea to a misdemeanor count of moving violation causing death carries with it a potential maximum sentence of one year in jail.

A Michigan State Police investigation found both Mitchell and Potter shared some fault — Potter didn’t stop at a posted stop sign and Mitchell’s minivan traveled at 77 mph at the point of impact. Toxicology results showed Mitchell had marijuana and morphine in her system. She had a prescription for morphine, but her medical marijuana patient card had expired.

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