Prosecutors dropped the most serious offenses Friday against a man accused of causing a Rapho Township crash that killed one passenger and injured two others in 2017.
Jeremy Michael Roland, 19, of Manheim, entered an open plea to homicide by vehicle, recklessly endangering a person, DUI and summary traffic citations in Lancaster County Court.
Charges of vehicular homicide and aggravated assault by vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance were dropped and replaced with simple assault, according to Assistant District Attorney Jared Hinsey.
After the Dec. 31, 2017, crash, police found marijuana in the car and were told Roland smoked marijuana before driving.
In a statement after the plea, the district attorney’s office said a forensic toxicologist’s report showed the marijuana levels were not “indicative of impairment.”
Because of the report, the district attorney’s office would have had a hard time proving that impairment caused the crash, according to office spokesman Brett Hambright. The other charges remained due to reckless driving, he said.
Roland turned 18 two months before the crash. He was driving in the 1300 block of Route 72 (Lebanon Road) when he veered off the road, went through fields and crashed into a detached garage, according to investigators. Hayley Clarke, 17, died at the scene. Two girls, 16 and 13, were injured.
Roland entered an open plea, which means the judge will determine his sentence after a background investigation. Judge Merill Spahn Jr. said the maximum sentence Roland could receive is 15 years and 6 months in prison.
Beyer said Roland, who has been out of prison on unsecured bail, has wanted to apologize to the victims' families but has not been able to due to bail conditions.
“I have no words,” Roland said, turning to look at a group of seven spectators. “I'm sorry. I'm so sorry,” he said, his voice cracking as he cried.