ATHENS, Ga — Former University of Georgia star Jalen Carter has pleaded no contest to the traffic charges he received in connection to a crash that killed a teammate and a recruiting staffer in January.
Recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy, 24, and UGA offensive lineman Devin Willock, 20, died in Jan. 15 crash on Barnett Shoals Road. The crash happened just hours after the Bulldogs celebrated their second consecutive national championship with a parade in downtown Athens.
Two other football program members, three-year offensive tackle Warren McClendon, 21, and Victoria Bowles, 26, were injured. Police initially characterized the crash as one that only involved one car.
On March 1, police announced misdemeanor reckless driving and racing charges against Carter in connection to the crash.
Police say LeCroy, who was driving in a 2021 Ford Expedition, and Carter, who was driving in a 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, were racing.
On Thursday, Carter’s attorney confirmed the agreement to Channel 2 Action News. Carter agreed to 12 months of probation, a $1,000 fine and 80 hours of community service. Additionally, he must complete a defensive driving course approved by the state.
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“We are happy that we were able to work with the Solicitor General’s office to reach a resolution that was fair and just and based on the evidence in this case. Mr. Carter continues to grieve the loss of his friends and continues to pray for their families, as well as for continued healing for injured friends,” attorney Kim T. Stephens wrote in a statement.
A no contest plea, also known as “nolo contendere” in Georgia, means a defendant will not contest the charges and accepts a fine and probation, according to Athens-Clarke County government. Carter’s attorneys said the deal also means no other charges can be brought against him in this case.
Carter is expected to be one of the top picks in this year’s NFL Draft. Legal experts say that now that his legal troubles are behind him, he can move forward and fully focus on football.
Channel 2′s Michael Sieden talked to an attorney Andrew Fleischman, who has no connection to the case, explained why Carter’s legal troubles are now behind him and he can move forward and fully focus on football.
“You’re foreclosing a guilty verdict, or a guilty plea that can be used against them in a civil proceeding,” Fleischman said. “And you’re letting him get past this so he can focus on his NFL career.”
Stephens said in a news conference that Carter’s actions on the night of the crash did not cause the accident.
“Second, Mr. Carter never left the scene of the accident without being told that he could leave. He stopped his car immediately after the accident occurred and ran toward the wrecked vehicle while his passenger called 911,” Stephens said. “Even after being informed that he could leave, Mr. Carter returned to the scene at the request of the Athens-Clarke County police department to answer additional questions and continued to cooperate throughout the investigation.”
Stephens went on to say that her client was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
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Police determined that LeCroy’s SUV reached speeds up to 104 mph before she lost control and crashed. A toxicology report for LeCroy determined that her blood alcohol concentration was .197 at the time of the crash. It is more than two times the legal limit.
In a statement regarding Carter’s no contest plea, his attorneys said he did not cause the crash and would have face more serious charges if he had. They also disputed police reports that Carter gave officers false statements regarding his whereabouts at the time of the crash.
“Mr. Carter never left the scene of the accident without being told that he could leave. He stopped his car immediately after the accident occurred and ran toward the wrecked vehicle while his passenger called 911. Even after being informed that he could leave, Mr. Carter returned to the scene at the request of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department to answer additional questions and continued to cooperate throughout the investigation,” Stephens wrote.
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