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White arraigned on manslaughter charge

September 9, 2013

An April 2013 accident east of Broken Bow that left one Sargent man dead now has another Sargent man facing manslaughter charges.
Joseph White, 26 of Sargent/Burwell, was arraigned in Custer County Court Monday morning on one charge of manslaughter, a Class III felony. White waived his right to a preliminary hearing and was bound over to District Court. He will be arraigned in Custer County District Court Sept. 26 at 9:30 a.m.
According to the report filed by the Nebraska State Patrol Trooper who investigated the accident, White was driving a 1991 Chrysler LeBaron traveling east on Highway 70 when the vehicle ran into the back end of a tractor driven by Joe Willhoit shortly before 7:30 p.m. The tractor spun into the north ditch and the car rolled into the south. Willhoit, 58 of Sargent, died at the scene and White was transported to Jennie M. Melham Memorial Medical Center in Broken Bow where he was treated and released.
The investigating Trooper noted in his report that White had explained that his brakes were malfunctioning, but an inspection of the car following the accident concluded the brakes were in working order. According to the report, White also denied using his cell phone at any time during or in the moments prior to the accident. However, forensic examination of the phone discovered an unsent text message from White to his wife.
The Trooper noted that he could find nothing that may have obstructed White’s view of the tractor, and in his opinion the cause of the accident was inattention of the driver, White.
A Class III felony carries a possible penalty of 1-20 years in prison, and/or $25,000 fine.

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