DONALDSONVILLE, LA (WAFB) - A man who was scheduled to go on trial in connection with a deadly crash entered a guilty plea just before the start of jury selection, court officials said.
The 23rd Judicial District Court reported Thomas Bowers, 44, of Baton Rouge, pleaded guilty Thursday to vehicular homicide in the 2015 death of Richard Billingsley Jr., 18, of Prairieville.
Bowers will be sentenced at a later date pending a pre-sentence investigation.
Authorities said the teen was helping a friend with car trouble in Ascension Parish the night of Aug. 4, 2015 when the deadly crash happened.
Louisiana State Police reported the investigation showed a woman was driving on LA 42 west of LA 44 in a 2005 Mazda Tribute and Billingsley was a passenger when the SUV broke down on them. Troopers said the driver turned on the hazard flashers on the vehicle and steered it while Billingsley pushed it off the highway.
According to investigators, the Chevrolet Silverado that Bowers was driving hit Billingsley as the teen was pushing the SUV. They added Billingsley was pronounced dead at the scene by the Ascension Parish Coroner's Office. Reports indicated the woman who had been driving the SUV suffered minor injuries and was taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Prairieville.
Officials said investigators suspected Bowers was impaired and speeding when Billingsley was hit. Troopers said Bowers refused to take a breath test, but he was sent to St. Elizabeth, where a blood sample was taken. They added the blood sample was sent to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for analysis and technicians later determined his blood alcohol concentration was .143%.
Judge Alvin Turner Jr. is presiding over the case.