Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Did Bondsman Facilitate Dragging Accident?

A Lander man admitted Thursday to dragging another man under a sport utility vehicle while driving drunk in Casper in December.

Doug Downs, 40, told a Natrona County District Court judge that he was under the influence of alcohol when he dragged Casper resident Jeff Irene more than a mile.

He had been arrested twice on Dec. 30, the night in question. The first time was for drunken driving, and when he was released from jail, he said his bondsman returned him to the establishment where he had been.

That was when the "accident occurred," he said.

Downs admitted to having a blood-alcohol level of .11. In Wyoming, a person is considered too drunk to drive if his blood-alcohol level is more than .08.

Wearing a black leather jacket, white button-down shirt and black boots, Downs stood politely before Judge Scott Skavdahl and pleaded guilty to charges of driving under the influence and driving under the influence causing serious bodily injury.

Authorities say Downs was driving the Chevrolet Tahoe that dragged Irene through Casper in the early morning on Dec. 30.

Irene suffered massive internal injuries. He spent more than four months in the hospital and returned home in mid-May.

Downs told police earlier than he found Irene lying in a ditch when he returned home from the Sandbar Lounge.

He was not sentenced during Thursday's change-of-plea hearing. The judge did say the two sentences would run concurrently, which means he could face up to 10 years in prison with credit for time served. Downs may also be told to pay restitution to Irene.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors dropped an original charge of aggravated assault.

Assistant District Attorney Dan Itzen said the charge of driving while under the influence and causing serious bodily injury is a new statute, which went into effect in July 2007.

Downs remains free on a $50,000 bond.

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