An Arizona man pleaded guilty Tuesday to three counts of DUI causing death for a triple-fatal crash in Nye County almost a year ago.
Tyler Kennedy, 33, could serve a maximum of 60 years but could serve much less, according to the plea agreement. The sentence range is two to 20 years for each count.
Nye County District Court Judge Robert Lane will determine whether each count is served concurrently or consecutively during a sentencing hearing scheduled for July 19. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss two counts of DUI causing injury and five reckless driving counts.
The crash on March 27, 2021, killed Idaho residents Michael Durmeier, his fiance Lauren Starcevich and Michael’s 12-year-old daughter, Georgia. Michael’s son, Jackson, now 11, suffered brain trauma, and Starcevich’s daughter, Emerson, 6, broke her wrist in the crash.
Family members of the victims said they were relieved they wouldn’t have to go to trial and risk an acquittal or conviction on lesser charges.
“It’s a lot of emotion,” said Chelsea Roberts, Georgia’s mother and Durmeier’s ex-wife. “In my mind, I feel like I’d rather be in control than have a 12-person jury in charge.”
Durmeier’s mother, Gina Durmeier, called the plea a “relief” when she learned it was final.
“I didn’t want Jackson to go through that again,” she said, referring to her grandson who likely would have had to testify.
Kennedy was driving north on U.S. Highway 95 between Beatty and Goldfield when he crossed the middle line and crashed head-on with an SUV Durmeier was driving south on a spring break trip, police records show.
At the crash scene, investigators found a baggie of a “crystal-like substance” that appeared to be meth from Kennedy’s truck, police said. Kennedy told investigators that he takes Adderall and had used meth three days before the crash.
Kennedy, of Tolleson, Ariz., has a history of traffic citations and an Arizona arrest for shoplifting.
His public defender, Jason Earnest, declined comment after the hearing but said in court that the state’s case was flawed. “There’s a real issue with the state’s inability to prove under the influence,” he told Lane.
Reporter Arthur Kane contributed to this story.