A Newport Beach man accused of killing a passenger in a car wreck at Hearst Ranch in 2009 made a plea deal Thursday requiring him to serve up to five years of probation and possibly a year in jail.
In San Luis Obispo Superior Court, Kurt Naegele pleaded no contest to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence and causing injury to two people.
The conditions attached to the plea require Naegele to serve three to five years of felony probation and 365 days in County Jail. He is eligible to apply for home detention.
The crash killed 38-year-old passenger Darren William Dahlman of Pasadena and injured passengers Christopher H. Pennell and Ryan Robert Doheny, both of Los Angeles.
The trial was previously postponed when defense attorneys announced their intention to argue that Naegele wasn’t driving the car. That trial had been expected to resume Wednesday.
CHP officials estimated, based on evidence at the crash scene, that the vehicle was traveling about 105 mph when the wreck occurred on a runway at the ranch, according to a search warrant filed by investigator Dan Bresnahan, who worked for the prosecution.
Doheny and Naegele both estimated the speed at 35 mph, however.
Doheny told investigators that Naegele was behind the wheel, the search warrant stated.
Naegele was the registered owner of the Range Rover, which was found several hundred feet off the runway down a steep embankment after the 11 p.m. crash. According to the warrant, Naegele’s blood-alcohol level was about 0.16 percent, twice the legal limit.
In November, Judge Michael Duffy declared a mistrial after jury selection had begun in the case against Naegele when defense attorneys Mark Geragos and Eugene Harris announced their intention to call an expert witness to testify that Naegele wasn’t the driver of the Range Rover.
But prosecutor Matthew Kerrigan hadn’t received a 30-day notice required by law to call the witness, according to the District Attorney’s Office. The plea agreement has stopped the case from moving to trial.
Naegele is scheduled to be sentenced July 6.
Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.