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Punxsutawney man pleads guilty in 2011 fatal crash

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Sunday, March 9, 2014, 4:09 p.m.

A 21-year-old Punxsutawney man charged in a 2011 one-car crash that killed three teens pleaded guilty Friday to three felony counts of vehicular homicide.

Blair E. Smith also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of a minor driving under the influence of alcohol. Armstrong County President Judge Kenneth Valasek presided over the case.

Smith faces a maximum combined sentence of 21 years in prison and $45,000 in fines in the crash that killed passengers Sean McConnaughey, 18, Dylan Behrendt and Joel Riggleman, both 19. All three were from Punxsutawney.

However, it will be up to the court to determine whether he will end up serving less time in exchange for his plea.

“The victims' families will have input, as will the defendant at the time of sentencing,” District Attorney Scott Andreassi said.

Court records show that Smith, who was 19 at the time of the crash, had a blood alcohol level of 0.0344 percent when he lost control of his 1996 Eagle Talon while speeding on Route 839 in Wayne on the night of Nov. 11. A blood-alcohol level of 0.02 percent is considered drunken driving for minors. Smith and his passengers were ejected from the car in the crash. Smith is to be sentenced on April 11.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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