MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

November 7, 2013

Man pleads guilty in son’s death in crash

Welch makes blind plea; sentencing set Feb. 5

A man charged with causing the death of his 5-year-old son pleaded guilty Wednesday to first-degree manslaughter.

Cody Hamilton Welch, 34, entered a blind plea for the crash that took the life of his son, Jackson. A blind plea means that Welch has no agreement with the district attorney’s office regarding sentencing.

Welch has 10 days for his attorney to file a written request to withdraw his plea.

Welch was charged with driving a 2004 Ford F150 pickup while under the influence of alcohol March 9 in Fort Gibson, according to court documents. Prosecutors said the alcohol led to the crash.

Jackson died that night. Fort Gibson police officers testified they were first on the scene of the crash and found Welch hovering over Jackson, who had been ejected from the pickup.

Welch stood before District Judge Jeff Payton and was questioned about his decision to plead guilty. Welch’s attorney, Donn Baker, stood nearby.

“He’s been ready to do this from Day 1,” Baker said. “He’s overwhelmed with knowing he was in a wreck that took his own son’s life.”

An Oklahoma Department of Public Safety employee testified in May at Welch’s preliminary hearing that Welch’s driver’s license had been canceled and suspended for more than two years at the time of the crash because of his excessive use of alcohol.

Payton ordered a presentence investigation be conducted before sentencing.

Welch will be sentenced at 11 a.m. Feb. 5. He could receive from four years to life in prison.

Reach Elizabeth Ridenour at (918) 684-2929 or eridenour@muskogeephoenix.com.

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