National News

Man accused in fatal Bellevue drunk-driving crash takes plea deal

Posted June 22

— The man accused of killing a 71-year-old woman when he crashed into her Bellevue condo pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and was sentenced to 15 years in prison in a Davidson County courtroom on Thursday.

Police said Michael Harris, 28, was drunk when he crashed into the living room of Bobbie Ann Lafollette's condo in River Plantation, then ran away.

Harris faced a number of charges, including vehicular homicide by intoxication, reckless endangerment and leaving the scene of a fatal crash.

He accepted a plea deal on Thursday, and there will be no sentencing hearing.

As part of the deal, he will only have to serve 60-percent of the 15-year sentence.

The victim's neighbor said Harris' bond should have been higher.

"Should have been a lot more than that, looks like," said Linda Arnold, Lafollette's neighbor.

Arnold worries that Harris had already been arrested for DUI three times before Monday's fatal crash.

"He could do this again," she said.

Harris will have a GPS monitor and a SCRAM device, an ankle monitor that tells if there is alcohol in his system.

He is not allowed to drive pending a hearing. He will also have to be home between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., unless he is working.

Harris must also stay in Davidson and Sumner counties.

Harris has been working at Sam's Sports Bar in Hendersonville. The bar's marketing director told Channel 4 he won't be working for Sam's while out on bond.

After his arrest, Channel 4 learned Harris, 28, has a history of driving under the influence.

On Dec. 3, 2009, Vanderbilt police caught Harris speeding on West End Avenue. The officer who pulled him over said Harris smelled of alcohol.

Harris told police he was "buzzed." His blood alcohol level came back at .149, nearly twice the legal limit.

Harris pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of misdemeanor reckless driving. He served six months supervised probation.

He was next arrested on June 28, 2011, in Sumner County and charged with implied consent and DUI.

While it was actually Harris' second DUI, he again pleaded down to a first offense of misdemeanor DUI. His license was revoked for a year.

Harris was back in custody in December 2012 for public intoxication.

In March 2014, Harris was arrested again by Vanderbilt police. He was driving on Blakemore Avenue with no headlights when police said he made a U-turn and almost hit a curb.

Harris was charged with what was technically his third DUI.

He was convicted of another misdemeanor, first offense DUI, and sentenced to one-year probation.

Harris had an interlock device installed in his car. He also had to complete alcohol safety school and attend a victim impact panel.

Monday, Lafollette was on her sofa when Harris allegedly crashed his car into her home, killing her.

Police said Harris ran from the scene of the fatal wreck, leaving his car lodged inside the house. Police said there was an open can of beer on the floor of the vehicle.

Harris told police he had no knowledge of being in an accident and didn't know where his car was.

Police said Harris smelled of alcohol, was bruised and bleeding, and covered in drywall dust.

In addition to DUI, Harris has other injury accidents behind the wheel. One had property damage and another with injuries last November.

Harris is being represented by Nashville attorney Worrick Robinson, who declined Channel 4's request for a comment at this time.

Copyright 2016 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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