ELIZABETHTOWN — Keith P. Denton has pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide in connection with a crash that took the life of a teen from Standish.
The car wreck occurred on Lincoln Pond Road on Saturday, June 24, 2012 — the day after Nicole “Nikki” Baker had graduated from Northern Adirondack Central School in Ellenburg. She was 17 and had planned to attend SUNY Potsdam in the fall.
Denton, now 22, was driving a 1997 Chevrolet Cavalier, heading northward shortly before 10 p.m. when he lost control along a flat stretch of the road, according to police reports.
The car went off the roadway, struck a tree and flipped over. Baker was partially ejected and pinned under the car.
RAPE, SEX CHARGES
Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague said the plea deal for criminally negligent homicide includes two other criminal counts.
Denton also pleaded guilty to second-degree rape related to an incident in the Town of Lewis on or about Jan. 25, 2013.
“That was a statutory count, with a female less than 15 years old,” the prosecutor said.
A third count for sexual misconduct in the plea deal stems from an incident with another female victim, Sprague said, related to a Dec. 16, 2012, incident in Westport.
“In that case, he engaged in sexual intercourse with a female who could not consent because she was 15.”
WAIVED RIGHT TO APPEAL
In accordance with the plea agreement, Denton will serve a six-year determinate prison term for second-degree rape to run consecutive, and likely after, a 1-1/3-to-four-year maximum indeterminate sentence on the criminally negligent homicide, stemming from the fatal car crash.
Another one-year sentence for the sexual misconduct will run concurrently, Sprague said.
Prison time of up to 10 years will depend on the indeterminate time served, she explained.
A fourth charge of aggravated harassment against Denton was handled in lower court. That charge related to a harassing telephone call.
He has waived his right to appeal in the plea deal, Sprague said.
SENTENCING FEB. 14
Denton is currently held in Essex County Jail, awaiting sentencing, which is scheduled for Feb. 14 before Judge Jerome J. Richards in Essex County Court.
Richards, a judge in St. Lawrence County, was brought in after Essex County Judge Richard B. Meyer recused himself from the case, the district attorney said.
Denton, of Elizabethtown, is represented by the Public Defender’s Office.
Denton was arrested in August 2013 to face charges in the car crash.
Patrick Ellsworth, 19, was also arrested at that time, charged with reckless driving and second-degree reckless endangerment, both misdemeanors.
He and Denton had been speeding on Lincoln Pond Road in some type of racing contest when the fatal wreck occurred, said State Police, who found speed was a contributing factor.
Both young men were released at the time on their own recognizance.
Denton was arraigned on Nov. 26, 2013, for both the rape and sexual misconduct charges, Sprague said. And he agreed to the plea deal at that time.
There will be time allotted in court at sentencing for victim’s impact statements.
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