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UPDATE: Drunk motorist pleads guilty in death of Austin Houser

Video included

When concerned family members first questioned Cathy Humphries about the extensive damage sustained Oct. 25 to the windshield and front passenger’s side of the pickup truck she’d been driving, Ms. Humphries told them she’d thrown a brick through the windshield.

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HUMPHRIES

HOUSER-Austin

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Later, she told law enforcement she’d struck a mailbox.

She acknowledged Monday before Judge Mark S. O’Connor the damage to the pickup that day came after she struck and killed Austin Houser.

Ms. Humphries, 49, currently of Rushsylvania, pleaded guilty in Logan County Common Pleas Court to a misdemeanor count of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs; aggravated vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony; and failure to stop after a crash, a third-degree felony.  

A mandatory prison sentence and lifetime driver’s license revocation will apply.

Ms. Humphries was operating a 1999 Ford Ranger pickup southwestbound on State Route 274 when the right front side of her pickup truck struck the 15-year-old boy. He died instantly.

Investigators report Austin was well off the road when he was struck, and that the pickup had veered entirely off the road.

Austin’s body wasn’t found until Oct. 27 by residents in the area, about a day after he was reported missing by his mother. Sheriff’s deputies soon determined the teenager was struck by a motor vehicle which left the scene.

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Cathy Humphries of Rushsylvania, standing right, pleaded guilty Monday in Logan County Common Pleas Court to multiple charges related to the Oct. 25 death of 15-year-old Austin Houser as the result of a hit-skip crash. CLICK HERE to watch a portion of the court proceedings. EXAMINER PHOTO | NATE SMITH

Tests of the defendant’s blood taken Oct. 25 showed the defendant had a blood alcohol level of 0.278 percent, more than three times the legal limit, and that she had recently used marijuana.

Debris from the crash site was compared with the vehicle driven by Ms. Humphries and found to match the mirror and front turn signal assembly.

As recently as last week, defense counsel had sought to suppress blood tests and certain statements the defendant made to law enforcement. Monday’s plea came before Judge O’Connor had issued a formal ruling on the suppression motions.

Prosecutors and defense have not agreed to a sentencing recommendation. Ms. Humphries faces up to a maximum of 13 years in prison. Sentencing is set for May 20.

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