Kevin Roper, the Walmart truck driver who hit the limo van comedian Tracy Morgan was riding in on the New Jersey Turnpike in 2014, accepted a plea deal Tuesday that allows him to enter a pre-trial intervention program.
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If Roper successfully completes the program's 300 hours of community service, all charges will be dismissed and he will avoid trial for the crash that killed comedian James McNair and severely injured Morgan.
Roper had no record prior to the accident and was eligible for the non-prosecution diversion program as a first-time offender.
Roper's defense attorney David Glassman spoke to reporters outside the court house today.
"The fortunate thing about this is he can go forward with his life. If he completes the program, the charges will be extinguished and he won’t have a criminal record," he said.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Roper had been awake for more than 28 hours prior to the collision and was driving 20 miles per hour above the speed limit.
“Had the truck driver been traveling at the posted work zone speed limit of 45 mph, it could have been stopped before impact,” NTSB investigator David Rayburn said last year.
McNair's family and Morgan sued Walmart, and both lawsuits were settled. The terms of the settlements were not publicly disclosed.
Glassman unsuccessfully tried in September 2015 to have criminal charges dropped against his client, stating that it would be difficult for Roper to have a fair trial.
"No system of justice can rightfully call itself just - if it operates in an atmosphere where the state is unwilling to protect the accused who appears before them, prior to a jury trial," he wrote in paperwork. "No accused can receive a fair trial, or any other due process requirements, if the criminal justice system under which an accused is tried leaves him at the mercy of the press."