October 25, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
50°F
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Vermilion man pleads guilty in road rage death

VERMILION – Christopher Pauley died last January as the result of a high-speed crash that occurred when he and another driver were weaving in and out of traffic.

Michael Hamilton, the 20-year-old New London man who police said “brake-checked” Pauley, causing him to crash, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges for his role in the fatal crash.

Hamilton`s attorney, Jack Bradley, said his client was remorseful and apologized to Pauley`s mother after Tuesday`s hearing in Vermilion Municipal Court.

“She accepted his apology, but she knew her son was partially at fault,” Bradley said of the hallway conversation. “But she wished Michael would have checked his behavior.”

Hamilton entered guilty pleas to driving without a license and reckless operation, charges that could send him to jail for six months when he is sentenced in December. He could also lose his driver`s license for a year.

Pauley, 19, died after he lost control of his car, crossed the Interstate 90 median between the Baumhart and Sunnyside roads exit and hit the front of a tractor-trailer.

The two teens had been racing down the highway at speeds in excess of 80 mph before the Jan. 14 crash. Pauley, of Vermilion, lost control after Hamilton brake-checked by pulling in front of him and hitting his brakes.

Prosecutors had sought to charge Hamilton with aggravated vehicular homicide, but those charges were dropped after Bradley pointed out that because there was never any contact between the two cars, the charge couldn`t be applied in the case under state law.

Hamilton, who knew Pauley as an acquaintance but didn`t know he was the man in the other car he was racing, drove off after the crash. He later told police that Pauley had initiated the aggressive driving by brake-checking him.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.