Plea out of fatal wreck

A Monday morning plea agreement for a Marietta man accused of vehicular homicide almost fell apart as the accused contested the fact that he had driven left of center the morning of the three- vehicle accident that took the life of a Marietta Township man.

“I didn’t go left of center,” 24-year-old Zachary Dumas told the court after he said he disagreed with a statement of facts presented by the prosecutor in the case.

Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings said Dumas was driving home from work on Ohio 26 on the morning of Sept. 16 when he went left of center. The crossover resulted in a head on collision with an oncoming vehicle driven by Robert J. Goddard, 55, of 50 Kelsey Lane, pushing Goddard’s vehicle into a car traveling behind him and ultimately resulting in Goddard’s death.

The driver following Goddard provided “one of the most comprehensive” witness statements about the accident, said Rings. That driver’s statement said Dumas’ vehicle drifted almost entirely into the opposite lane.

Rings also mentioned the prosecution’s belief that Dumas had been texting at the time of the accident, but was asked by Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane to withhold those comments until after the statement of facts because charges relating to the texting allegations were being dropped as a

result of Dumas’ plea of no contest to the first-degree misdemeanor count of vehicular homicide.

After Dumas disputed the statement that he traveled left of center, his attorney, George Cosenza of Parkersburg, asked for a brief recess to speak with Dumas.

On returning to the court room a few minutes later, Cosenza said that his client had been confused by the prosecution mentioning texting as a factor, which the defense has disputed.

Dumas told Lane that he had in fact gone left of center and asked to go forward with his plea of no contest on the charge.

In exchange for the plea, two other charges-a second-degree misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter and a third-degree felony count of tampering with evidence-were dismissed.

The felony charge had been a result of Dumas deleting text messages from around the time of the crash his from his phone prior to turning it in to the Ohio State Highway Patrol for evidence, said Rings when allowed to elaborate on his earlier statement of facts.

“And only the messages from that morning had been deleted. The rest of the ones from further back were still on the phone,” said Rings.

The state patrol was still able to cull the deleted messages, which were between Dumas and his girlfriend. One text occurred within a minute of the first 911 call about the crash, he said.

While there was evidence to pursue the tampering charge, Rings in conjunction with the victim’s family, decided to pursue the vehicular homicide charge, as that was the crux of the case, he said.

Dumas will be sentenced June 26 at 8 a.m. He faces a maximum six-month jail sentence, $1,000 fine, and five-year driving suspension.