Plea deal reached for driver in fatal Winters crash

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An Esparto man will serve probation and jail time for a February drunken-driving crash that resulted in his wife’s death, according to the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office.

Joshua Douglas Muller, 30, pleaded no contest last Thursday to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, Deputy District Attorney Frits van der Hoek said Monday. He is expected to be sentenced Aug. 5 to probation and 120 days in county jail.

Muller and his wife, former Davis resident Sarah Morrissey Muller, were heading home from a “date night” in Winters at about 9:30 p.m. Feb. 22 when their sport-utility vehicle left the roadway and struck a tree on Railroad Avenue near Neimann Street. Muller, who was driving, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.14, nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08, police reported at the time.

Friends and relatives of the couple, the parents of four children, called the crash “a tragic accident” that left Muller devastated.

“This is not something that Josh would have ever wanted to happen. They were madly in love,” friend Ana Feliciano told The Davis Enterprise following Muller’s first court appearance. “I can’t wait for this to be over for their family. They (the children) need their dad back.”

Muller, who had a prior DUI conviction, once faced a murder charge in the case, but that count was removed in an amended complaint the DA’s Office filed last week. Several other DUI-related charges also were dismissed in exchange for Muller’s plea.

“This plea agreement was the direct result of facts that were developed in this case subsequent to Mr. Muller’s arrest,” said Steve Sabbadini, Muller’s attorney. “This information led the District Attorney’s Office to dismiss the more serious charges and the making of the offer to resolve the case. Also instrumental in this plea agreement was the participation in and support of this plea agreement by principal family members on both sides.”

Van der Hoek noted that the plea agreement carries a provision that “any non-technical violation of the terms of (Muller’s) probation will result in the court either suspending the upper term or imposing the upper term at the discretion of the court.” The upper term of the manslaughter count is four years in jail.

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