The driver of a hit-and-run accident that killed a local woman in May 2018 pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges on Wednesday at the Erie County Court of Common Pleas.
Steven M. Wellman, 47, of Corry, pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of involuntary manslaughter and an ungraded misdemeanor count of driving under the influence. Erie County Judge John Mead accepted Wellman's guilty plea and scheduled sentencing for Nov. 12.
A second-degree felony count of accidents involving death or personal injury was downgraded to involuntary manslaughter as part of Wellman's plea agreement.
The Erie Times-News reports that a sentence of 11 1/2 to 23 months in county prison will be recommended by the Erie County District Attorney's Office as part of the plea agreement, and the office will not object to Wellman serving his sentence on work release.
He faces a maximum sentence of five years and six months in Erie County Prison, according to the Times-News report.
Wellman was driving eastbound while under the influence of alcohol when he struck Lorri L. Huffman, 54, of Corry, in the 600 block of West Washington Street around 1:23 a.m. on May 12, 2018, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed with the police criminal complaint.
First responders found Huffman in a ditch alongside the roadway with severe head trauma and facial lacerations. Huffman was taken to Corry Memorial Hospital, an affiliate of LECOM Health, and then to UPMC Hamot where she succumbed to her injuries on the morning of May 14, 2018.
Erie County Deputy Coroner John Maloney confirmed that Huffman died of blunt force trauma to the head as the result of the accident.
Corry City Police believe Huffman was walking along West Washington Street in a place where there are no sidewalks when she was struck.
Wellman did not stop his vehicle or notify police after hitting Huffman but he called 911 about an hour later to report he was the driver involved in the hit-and-run accident.
He told police that he thought he struck a deer while driving home from a local bar and restaurant until he saw on Facebook that a pedestrian had been hit in the area.
When police arrived at Wellman's West Church Street residence, they observed a tan Dodge Journey parked in the driveway that was missing its passenger side mirror. The passenger side windshield head lamp assembly was shattered and found to be consistent with vehicle debris found at the scene of the accident.
Wellman freely admitted to consuming alcoholic beverages prior to the accident, telling police he drank seven to eight beers since 7 p.m. He also stated he consumed three 16-ounce cans of Busch Light since the accident.
Felony counts of aggravated assault by vehicle and homicide by vehicle were dismissed during Wellman's preliminary hearing before District Judge Denise Buell in August of 2018.