Plea deal reached in vehicle homicide case

Karlynda Jones

The multiple charges against a local woman accused of being under the influence when she caused a car crash that claimed a life in 2019 has pleaded guilty to a homicide charge, avoiding a jury trial, but almost assuring her of lengthy prison time.

Karlynda Jones, 29, of Grantsburg, appeared in Burnett County Circuit Court on Monday, Aug. 30 before Judge Melissia Mogen, who approved the plea deal that had Jones plead ‘guilty’ to the primary homicide felony, but agreeing to dismiss multiple other related charges, which will be read-in at sentencing, which is slated for later this year. 

Jones was originally facing felony charges of Homicide by Vehicle, second-degree reckless homicide, two felony charges of first-degree reckless endangering, felony methamphetamine possession and misdemeanor paraphernalia and meth possession when drug remnants were found in both her vehicle and her bloodstream after the crash, which occurred when she drove head-on into a car driven by Paul Wendell Hinds on Feb. 19, 2019, on State Highway 35 between Hayden Lake Road and Glendenning Road in the Town of Oakland. Jones also struck another vehicle in the crash, causing injuries.

She agreed to a plea deal two weeks ago that dismissed all but the felony homicide by vehicle – with a restricted, controlled substance (meth) in the blood. That felony alone carries a possible prison sentence of up to 25 years and up to/or including a $100,000 fine.

The plea deal dismissed the other charges but does allow a ‘read-in’ at sentencing for the judge to consider.

A pre-sentence investigation (PSI) will be conducted and Jones will remain in custody until her Dec. 6 sentencing, where her defense attorney said he would argue to ‘cap’ the initial confinement prison time. However, Judge Mogen is not bound by those arguments or by the PSI recommendations. 

“It was my fault, I’m very sorry,” Jones said between tears at her plea hearing. “I messed up. I don’t really know … but yes, I did it (killed him)… So yes, guilty.”

The victims’ family is expected to speak on the impact of Jones’ actions at the sentencing, but Judge Mogen repeatedly noted to Jones that her crime “was very serious,” and revoked her bond, assuring she will be in jail custody until the sentencing.

Jones was noted recently for repeatedly failing random drug tests, as she continued to show traces of methamphetamine since her arrest. Those test results led to the prosecutors assigning additional felony bail jumping charges and eventually to Judge Mogen imposing a $15,000 cash bond, which has since been revoked.

Jones sentencing hearing is set for Dec. 6.