A Roseburg man who killed a Myrtle Creek woman in a car accident last year was found guilty today of criminally negligent homicide and other charges and could face more than six years in prison.
Nathan Howard Stuart, 23, was also found guilty of second-degree manslaughter and driving under the influence of illegal substances by Douglas County Circuit Court Judge George Ambrosini.
Stuart collided nearly head-on with Charlotte Ann Fields, 51, on Nov. 17, 2012, in the 3800 block of Diamond Lake Boulevard.
Police said Stuart was driving west on Diamond Lake Boulevard when his 1999 Jeep Cherokee veered into the path of Fields’ eastbound 2004 Dodge Neon. Fields was on her way that Saturday morning to the Turning Point Seventh-day Adventist Community Church on Douglas Avenue.
Fields was taken to Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg, where she died.
Ambrosini presided over a four-day bench trial this month and had been deliberating on a decision since Oct. 4. Ambrosini delivered the verdict without comment. Sentencing was set for Nov. 6.
Deputy District Attorney Shannon Sullivan said she plans to seek the Measure 11 sentence of 75 months, or six years and three months, for the second-degree manslaughter charge. She said she will ask for concurrent time for the other two charges because they all stem from the same incident.
“I’m very happy with the verdict. I’m very happy for the family and happy overall. It was the right decision,” she said.
Friends and family of the victim who were in court to hear the verdict declined to comment. Defense attorney Brook Reinhard also declined to comment.
During the trial, Sullivan presented evidence that Stuart was under the influence of a concoction of drugs when the accident occurred. A forensic scientist testified that she found methamphetamine, marijuana, oxycodone and methadone in Stuart’s urine, which was collected after the accident. She said she did not find alcohol in a blood sample.
Reinhard argued that the analysis did not conclusively tell when Stuart had taken the drugs and whether they impaired Stuart.
In his closing statement, Reinhard said Stuart simply fell asleep before the accident and that it was not caused by drugs.
Sullivan said she was not surprised by the verdict.
“I knew the judge had a lot of information he had to sort through, so I knew it was not going to be an easy decision for him,” she said. “All the evidence was definitely there.”
• You can reach reporter Betsy Swanback at 541-957-4208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.