COLE CO., Mo. - A man pleaded guilty Monday to charges stemming from a deadly DWI crash near Jefferson City last year.
Dennis Leporin, 29, admitted to one count of second-degree murder and second-degree assault, felony DWI and two misdemeanors, operating a motor vehicle without a license and endangered driving. His sentencing is set for August 13 in Cole County.
This DWI charge is Leporin's third, which makes it a felony offense in Missouri, Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson told ABC 17 News. Since a death happened while Leporin was driving drunk, his charges were elevated from the typical involuntary manslaughter charge given to people committing this crime to felony murder.
Richardson said DWI cases where death is involved are particularly hard to prosecute because of how preventable the crime is.
"The person that commits the crime has means to call and get a ride, or has means to get a cab if they have to," Richardson said. "There's just no excuse in today's world, nor has there ever been, to drive drunk and take the risk of killing other people."
Court documents claim Leporin was driving the wrong way on Highway 54 and crashed head-on into another car, killing Chelsea Fredrickson, 19, of Camdenton. Her passenger, Jasper Richmond, suffered serious injuries.
The probable cause statement claimed Leporin told law enforcement, "I was in a horrible wreck that I caused." The statement also quoted Leporin as saying on the night of the crash, he was in Arkansas and the year was 2012.
Officials say Leporin had a revoked driver's license at the time of the accident.