Roper appeared in state Superior Court on Tuesday where he pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and four counts of aggravated assault. He was on duty in June 2014 when he crashed into Morgan’s van on the New Jersey Turnpike. The group was returning from Morgan’s show in Delaware., per MSN.com.
An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the accident was caused by Roper’s lack of sleep in the 28 hours before the crash, and his failure to slow down immediately before impact. Despite posted warning signs on the turnpike about construction work in progress, the report found the truck was going 65 mph in a 45 mph zone until about 200 feet before the crash. Roper’s attorney disputed these claims.
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Comedian James McNair died and three other passengers were injured in the crash. Morgan suffered a broken leg, broken ribs and head injuries. He would spend the next year healing and working with a physical therapist and didn’t make his first public appearance until the summer of 2015.
Vehicular homicide carries a 10-year maximum prison sentence, and 37-year-old Roper also faced an aggravated manslaughter count, which is punishable by a 10-to-30-years. Under terms of his plea, Roper can avoid prison and won’t have a criminal record if he performs community service and satisfies other conditions over the next three years, according to his attorney, David Glassman.
“He is grateful for the opportunity to accept responsibility and move forward in doing what is required to obtain a dismissal of the charges pending against him,” Glassman said in an email to The Associated Press.
Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. settled separate lawsuits in 2015 brought by Morgan and by McNair’s two children.