MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

July 4, 2013

Man gets 10 years for manslaughter in fatal crash

Judge says man, who pleaded guilty, can’t be trusted to drive

A visiting judge said a man who “can’t be trusted to drive” should be incarcerated after pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter.

Adair County District Judge Jeffrey Payton sentenced Billy Haworth to 10 years in prison Wednesday.

Haworth passed three cars in a no-passing zone around a curve Dec. 15, 2010. Haworth’s vehicle hit Hank Glass’ vehicle head-on, killing the father of two.

Testing showed Haworth was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the wreck.

Haworth entered a blind plea of guilty in March. While awaiting his sentence, he was arrested in April in Fort Gibson on complaints of possession of a controlled dangerous substance, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia and transporting an open container of beer.

He has not gone to trial in the new case.

Defense attorney Donn Baker asked Payton to ignore the information about the April arrest in making his decision because Haworth is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Nonetheless, Payton cited the circumstances of the arrest as part of his decision to send Haworth to prison.

“I start looking at the affidavits from the Fort Gibson Police Department, and it shows there was beer and dope present in his vehicle and the presentence report shows he is obviously a habitual speeder and can’t be trusted to drive, so I am going to incarcerate him,” Payton said.

Haworth has had four speeding tickets, two illegal possession of alcohol tickets, and a 1996 misdemeanor marijuana possession conviction, according to testimony Wednesday.

Haworth’s wife put her hands over her face and sobbed after he was sentenced. Haworth’s two children were not in the courtroom.

Several of Glass’ family members also attended Wednesday’s hearing, and many wrote victim impact statements.

 A victim witness coordinator read Vanessa Glass’ statement about her late husband.

Glass wrote that her husband was a good man who, at age 40, was too young to die. He had two teenage sons whose future children he’d never get to enjoy.

And he only wanted to go hunting on his birthday, which was the day he died, she wrote.

“Instead of having a birthday party, we spent the night crying,” she wrote. “He was my soul mate, and that will never change.”

Charges were originally filed against Haworth in early 2011. Baker argued in front of Payton that the facts in the case did not warrant a manslaughter charge. Payton dismissed the case.

Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Moore appealed the dismissal, and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Payton’s dismissal last August.

Later, Moore asked for Payton to recuse himself from the case because Glass’ family members weren’t comfortable with the judge presiding who had previously dismissed the case, but then changed his mind.

Payton heard Haworth’s guilty plea a week later.

Haworth will be required to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole in 2022.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.

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