A Corbin man pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter, assault and DUI charges in connection with a fatal crash in 2018 in exchange for a recommended 13-year prison sentence.
Joshua Allen Stopher, 38, appeared in Laurel Circuit Court Monday for what was scheduled to be the final pretrial hearing before the case involving the death of his wife, Charity, went to trial on Jan. 14.
In exchange for Stopher’s guilty plea, prosecutors recommended eight years on the second-degree manslaughter charge, enhanced to 13 years because of an accompanying second-degree persistent felony offender charge.
Sentences for charges of second-degree assault and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants will be served concurrently.
Stopher is scheduled to return to Laurel Circuit Court on Jan. 27 for formal sentencing.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele said the sentence is within the sentencing range Stopher would have been facing had the case gone to trial.
In addition, Steele said he spoke with Charity Stopher’s family before moving forward with the plea agreement.
“They understood the reasoning,” Steele said.
At that time, Judge Greg Lay has the option of formally accepting the plea agreement and handing down the agreed-upon sentence.
The judge may also elect not to accept the plea agreement. If he does that, Stopher may elect to continue with sentencing with no agreement in place, or withdraw his guilty plea and proceed to trial.
London Police said previously that the wreck occurred on U.S. 25 on Nov. 9.
Stopher was driving south with his wife as a passenger when he attempted to make a left turn, crossing into the path of a 1999 Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Edward Hammack of London.
Charity Stopher was pronounced dead at the scene.
Hammack and Joshua Stopher were each transported to St. Joseph London for treatment of injuries.
London Police Sergeant Ryan Jackson presented the case to a Laurel County grand jury on Aug. 12.
The indictment was returned Aug. 16 and Stopher was arrested and lodged in the Laurel County Correctional Center.
He will receive credit for the time served toward the service of his sentence.
Under Kentucky law, Stopher must serve 20 percent of the sentence before he becomes eligible for parole.