AMERICAN FORK — A repo man who was attempting to take back a car admitted Monday that he caused the death of a woman he was chasing.
Kenneth Lee Drew, 50, of American Fork, pleaded guilty to manslaughter, a second-degree felony, in the death of Ashleigh Holloway Best, 35, on May 17.
Prosecutors agreed to recommend no prison time for the crime, according to court documents. Deputy Utah County attorney Jared Perkins said Monday that Best's family agreed to the plea deal, including withholding making any kind of sentencing recommendation themselves, in order to avoid a jury trial.
"They really would like to see a prison sentence imposed, but they have agreed to hold that to themselves and leave it to the judge in order to spare their family the ordeal of going through a trial," Perkins said, calling the family's agreement "generous."
Third District Judge Thomas Low is not bound to follow prosecutors' recommendation when the case comes up for sentencing Jan. 10. The manslaughter charge carries a potential sentence of one to 15 years in prison.
Perkins said he believes it is likely Drew could spend some time behind bars, though it might be in the Utah County Jail rather than prison.
Also as part of the plea agreement, after five years of probation, Drew's conviction may be reduced two levels to a class A misdemeanor.
According to police, Drew, an employee of On Demand Repos, was attempting to repossess Best's 2002 Lincoln Navigator but had agreed to wait while she and her husband looked into updating their payment plan. While he waited, Best hopped in the car and took off.
Security footage from a neighbor's home showed Drew take off in an aggressive pursuit, according to police. The chase wound through the couple's Pleasant Grove neighborhood for about 12 blocks until Best's car hopped the curb — allegedly forced over as Drew's tow truck maintained contact with the car along its side — and slammed into a tree.
Drew initially claimed that Best had sped ahead of him on the right, fishtailed and crashed, according to police. However, his explanation didn't hold up as the accident was reconstructed.
When confronted with the evidence, prosecutors say Drew "conceded that he may have been using his truck to try to stop Mrs. Best, to try to bring the whole thing to an end. He also backtracked on his first account and said that he did not really remember details about how the crash happened," charges state.
Contributing: Sam Penrod