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Midvale man pleads guilty in death of jogger

SHARE Midvale man pleads guilty in death of jogger

A Midvale man accused of striking and killing a jogger with his vehicle has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of automobile homicide.

Robert James Longaker, 26, pleaded guilty to the third-degree felony during his scheduled preliminary hearing in 3rd District Court Thursday. He had originally been charged with automobile homicide, a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and failure to stop at the scene of an injury accident, a Class A misdemeanor.Third District Judge Douglas Cornaby could order Longaker to spend up to five years in prison during his sentencing, scheduled for Sept. 2. Longaker was released from jail to Adult Probation and Parole pending the sentencing.

Longaker was charged following the May 24 auto-pedestrian accident that killed Leslie A. Stephens, 47, who was jogging with her husband near 7355 S. 900 East.

A southbound Jeep in the northbound lanes of 900 East continued onto the sidewalk at full speed, striking Stephens head-on, according to the charging documents. Longaker, the driver, got out of the Jeep and ran to his father's nearby apartment. Police took him into custody minutes later.

Stephens was taken by medical helicopter to University Hospital, where she later died of internal bleeding caused by blunt force trauma to her abdomen and head.

According to a blood sample, Longaker had a .08 blood alcohol level at the time of the accident.