KENNEBEC, S.D. – (DRG News) A Lower Brule woman will be sentenced in December for her guilty pleas to five counts of Vehicular Homicide. 19-year-old Tessa Crane appeared in a Kennebec courtroom Wednesday. She was indicted in September of last year on the Vehicular Homicide counts, along with charges that included two counts of Vehicular Battery, DUI and Driving Without a License. The charges were the result of an accident in August of 2011 that resulted in the deaths of five people. Crane was driving a 1994 Oldsmobile Cutlass on a gravel road nine miles northwest of Reliance when her vehicle collided head-on with a 2001 Toyota Corolla at the crest of a hill. Both vehicles were engulfed in flames after the crash. One person perished in Crane’s car; 35-year-old Jesse Hawk Wing. Crane and a Lower Brule man were injured. The four people in the other vehicle who were killed were the driver, 18-year-old Gabriella Laroche; along with 33-year-old Truman Armell, 32-year-old Alvina Johnson and 10-year-old Deja Sazue. Two young boys in the Laroche car received serious injuries.
Lyman County States Attorney Anita Fuoss says Crane entered guilty pleas to the five Vehicular Homicide counts Wednesday. The state agreed to dismiss the remaining counts. Fuoss says Crane had been out on bond, but Judge Patricia DeVaney ordered that she be taken into custody until her sentencing. Crane will return to court December 20 in Kennebec. She could be sentenced to as many as 75 years in prison. Vehicular Homicide carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in custody.
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