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Man pleads guilty in drunk driving deaths

The Bollinger County man charged with the September 2016 drunk-driving deaths of Farmington natives Rick Augustine and Debra Smith has pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter in Cape Girardeau County, according to court documents.

Paul Patton, 51, of Patton, was originally charged in Bollinger County where the crash occurred, but was granted a change of venue to Perry County in February 2017. In an April 26 plea hearing in Cape Girardeau, Patton entered his plea and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Both charges carried a maximum sentence of seven years in the Department of Corrections.

According to the probable cause statement from the initial incident, the Missouri State Highway Patrol responded to Highway 72 west of Highway 51 in Bollinger County in reference to a fatal crash around 3:35 p.m. on Sept. 25, 2016.

Upon arrival at the scene, the responding trooper was reportedly told by a sergeant with the Bollinger County Sheriff’s Department that two individuals, Augustine, 58, and Smith, 60, both of Farmington, had sustained fatal injury in the accident.

Augustine had been operating a 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan motorcycle and Smith had been his passenger. The trooper observed the motorcycle off the north side of the roadway and a 2004 Dodge Ram, Patton’s vehicle, off the south side of the roadway.

Patton reportedly told the trooper that while driving eastbound, his dog had jumped into his lap, causing him to swerve into the westbound lane and strike the motorcycle.

The trooper observed that Patton exhibited signs of intoxication, with Patton stating that he had taken three-and-a-half Percocet painkiller pills because he had recently had back surgery. Patton agreed to take a breathalyzer test, with the test confirming the presence of alcohol.

Patton then informed the trooper that he had tobacco in his mouth, which the trooper told Patton to spit out so another breathalyzer test could be performed. Patton refused to take a second breathalyzer test, but upon being asked, stated that he had drank mixed drinks and beer earlier in the morning.

Patton reportedly told the trooper that he had taken his last drink about an hour before the crash.

Patton

Patton

Jacob Scott is a reporter with the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616 or at jscott@dailyjournalonline.com.

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