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Plea reached in W.Va. fatal crash

April 17, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Martinsburg-area man charged with causing the death of a friend in an accident in September 2007 was placed on two years of unsupervised probation as part of a plea agreement reached in Berkeley County Magistrate Court, records show.

Matthew S. Lowe, 43, of 655 Showers Lane on April 10 entered a guilty plea to one misdemeanor count of negligent homicide, which replaced a felony count of DUI causing death that was dismissed, according to court records.

As part of the agreement, a one-year jail sentence was suspended and Lowe was fined $500 and ordered to pay $185.50 in court costs, according to court records.

Charles M. Peavler Jr., of 997 Showers Lane, a friend of Lowe's, died shortly after being thrown from the 1976 Toyota Land Cruiser that Lowe was driving on the morning of Sept. 16, 2007, according to court records.

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When contacted Monday, Lowe's attorney, Harley O. Wagner, and Prosecuting Attorney Pamela J. Games-Neely confirmed that the agreement reflected the wishes of the victim's wife and the evidence in the case.

According to police, Peavler was not breathing at the crash scene along Shireoaks Drive in Millpoint subdivision when emergency responders arrived. A blood sample that confirmed Lowe had been drinking alcohol before the accident was taken from the defendant about 6 a.m., about four hours afterward, police had said.

The vehicle was found on its roof and police have said the men appeared to be traveling east when the jeep wrecked into a tree shortly after the driver "straightened" a curve by crossing into the westbound lane. The vehicle left the road, traveled 104 feet before it struck a driveway culvert at 576 Shireoaks Drive, overturned and then struck the tree, according to police.

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