A 26-year-old former Gainesville resident pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Denton County this week.
Denton County First Assistant Criminal District Attorney Jamie Beck said Friday, Feb. 14, that Garrett Wilhelm, of Keller, pleaded guilty to the second-degree felony charge Wednesday, Feb. 12.
She said the plea bargain agreement consisted of five years deferred adjudication, 110 days in jail to begin Feb. 24 and a fee not to exceed $60,000.
Beck said her office did not know the official restitution amount, but they should by the sentencing which she said is to take place at 8:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 24. in Judge Margaret Barnes’ 367th District Courtroom at the Denton County Courts Building, 1450 E. McKinney St. in Denton.
Wilhelm’s charge stems from a 2014 Christmas Eve crash along I-35W. Wilhelm, who was a resident of Gainesville at the time, was on his way to visit his parents in Keller when he rear-ended a family of four on the highway, according to a report in the Denton Record-Chronicle. The Dec. 24 crash killed 5-year-old Moriah Modisette of Cross Roads and seriously injured members of her family.
“FaceTime was engaged at the time of the crash, plus other phone activity prior to the accident such as texting,” Beck said Friday.
Beck said the girl’s family did agree to the plea offer. She also said additional comment would need to wait until after sentencing.
Denton-based attorney Ricky Perritt was retained to represent Wilhelm.
Wilhelm faced two to 20 years in prison, according to the Texas Penal Code.
Perritt called the 2014 crash a “tragedy” Friday morning. He said nothing will replace the little girl lost that day. However, as far as criminal cases go, he believes his client got a “good deal.”
If Wilhelm completes probation, his case will be dismissed, Perritt said.
“I think it’s a fair outcome for this case,” Peritt said of the plea bargain.
The case wasn’t Wilhelm’s first run-in with the law. According to Denton County court records, Wilhelm pleaded no contest to a Class B misdemeanor theft charge in 2013.