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Three defendants plead guilty, avoid jail time, in 2006 death of mo-ped rider

By Sarah Nagem
snagem@salisburypost.com
Three east Rowan men pleaded guilty Thursday to lesser charges ó including no jail time ó in the death of a mo-ped rider in 2006.
Brandon Heathcliff Lowery, 23, Eric Gregory Taylor, 21, and Alstin Lee Vanderford, 21, appeared in court Thursday morning.
Lowery and Vanderford each pleaded guilty to one count of death by motor vehicle, a misdemeanor, and leaving the scene of an accident by a passenger, which is a felony.
Three other people in the car that night previously entered plea agreements with District Attorney Bill Kenerly, agreeing to testify about what happened that night in exchange for the prosecutor dismissing or reducing the charges. Those three defendants ó Patsy Morgan, 21, Rachel Miller, 21, and Derek Talbert, 23 ó have not been sentenced.
Taylor was driving the Jeep involved in the May 2006 accident that killed mo-ped rider Michael Jason Brown, 27.
On Thursday, Taylor pleaded guilty to misdemeanor death by a vehicle and felony hit and run.
As part of the deal, Lowery, Taylor and Vanderford were sentenced to eight to 10 months in jail, but Judge Jim Hardin Jr. suspended the sentence for three years. The three will be on probation during that period, and a judge could invoke the sentence if they violate terms of that probation.
The defendents will be on house arrest and electronic monitoring for six months and will have to surrender their driver’s licenses.
If a jury had convicted them, Lowery, Taylor and Vanderford could have been sentenced to as much as 34 months in jail.
Brown’s mother addressed the defendents during court.
“We haven’t had a day of peace since (the incident),” Elizabeth Brown said.
Lowery, Taylor and Vanderford each apologized to the Brown family.
For more on this story, including remarks from the defendants and Brown’s family, read Friday’s edition of the Salisbury Post or continue to visit the Post’s Web site.

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