Newport Man Enters Plea Agreement in Fatal Hardee's Crash

WALNUT RIDGE, AR - Third Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce says 45-year-old Gary Nicholson of Newport pled guilty yesterday on charges related to the September 5, 2006, incident in which he crashed his pick-up truck into the Hardee's restaurant in Newport, killing two people and injuring five others.

Nicholson was scheduled to be tried in the case beginning November 6, but avoided trial by entering a plea agreement before Lawrence County Circuit Judge Phil Smith.  The case had been moved from Jackson County to Lawrence County on a change of venue request.

Nicholson pled guilty to two counts of felony manslaughter, four counts of felony 2nd degree battery, one count of 2nd degree felony criminal mischief, one count of 3rd degree battery (misdemeanor), one count of driving while intoxicated.

Smith sentenced Nicholson to a total of 40 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

"I am glad that we have been able to bring closure to this matter for the victims in this case, as well as the entire Jackson County community," said Boyce.