An Andalusia man entered an Alford plea Wednesday for the second time in connection with a 2013 crash that left two people dead.
Mitchell A. Gayer, 26, entered his plea to aggravated driving under the influence, a Class 2 felony punishable by three to 14 years in prison, during a short hearing at the Rock Island County Justice Center.
In an Alford plea, a defendant doesn't admit guilt but agrees the prosecution likely could prove the charge at trial.
He will have to serve 85 percent of the sentence before he is eligible for parole.
However, Illinois law allows for probation in aggravated DUI cases where a death occurs only if the trial judge finds that there are "extraordinary circumstances."
He will be sentenced March 7. The hearing is expected to last a half day.
According to prior court testimony, Gayer lost control of his 1999 Chevy S10 on a curve on 51st Street West near Milan and swerved off the road and into a ditch and hit a tree on Nov. 27, 2013.
Passengers Jamie Sedam, 22, of Port Byron and Clayton Carver, 24, of Taylor Ridge were killed in the crash.
Rock Island County State’s Attorney John McGehee said during the plea hearing that Gayer’s blood alcohol content was 0.146, nearly twice the legal limit to drive.
At the time of the crash, Gayer was driving 61 mph in a 55-mph zone, according to prior testimony.
Gayer has maintained that he has no memory of the crash itself or the events leading up to it.
In January 2015, Gayer entered an Alford plea to one count of aggravated driving under the influence and was sentenced in May 2015 to 18 years in prison.
He later filed a motion through his attorney, Katherine Drummond, to take back the plea. In the motion, Gayer argued that his former attorney, William Schick, was ineffective.
On Dec. 30, 2015, Associate Judge Thomas Berglund granted his request to take back his plea and vacate his prison sentence.
McGehee said after Wednesday’s hearing that he will ask for a sentence at the “high-end” of the sentencing range because the crash involved two deaths.
“We wanted to get him to take responsibility for this terrible accident that happened, and with what we did today, he did take responsibility for it,” McGehee said of the plea agreement.
Sedam’s mother, Tracey O’Hara, expressed her frustration that the family has had to wait more than three years “to get to this point.”
“We want justice, and this is just another stepping stone,” she said.