Driver must speak about cell dangers after deadly 2011 wreck

By Kayleigh Zyskowski Published:

A Harrodsburg man has pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in a wreck that killed a local teenager, and part of the plea deal requires him to speak to schools and civic groups about the dangers of using cell phones while driving.

After an investigation by Kentucky State Police, Kevin Butler, 31, was charged with reckless homicide following a fatal wreck in January of 2011 that killed Trista Shoemaker, a 17-year-old Western Hills High School student.

The investigation revealed Butler ran a red light at the intersection of Green Wilson Road and U.S. 127 and struck Shoemaker’s vehicle as she turned onto the highway.

Shoemaker’s sister, Amber McCoy, who was 15 at the time of the wreck, was also in the car but was not seriously injured. 

 Butler was distracted by his cell phone and was speeding, says Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland, and he didn’t stop before he entered the intersection. 

Weather may also have been a factor, Cleveland said after court Friday, because it snowed a few inches hours before the wreck.

The agreement says Butler will be placed on a pre-trial diversion program, including unsupervised probation.

“Hopefully (the public service announcements) will have an impact on someone else’s life,” Cleveland said after the plea.

The charge carries a five-year sentence if he fails to complete the diversion and probation programs.

Shoemaker’s parents were at the courthouse, but were not in the courtroom at the time the plea was entered.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd substituted for Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate, who will issue a formal sentence April 27.

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