Hofer Pleads Guilty to Aggravated DUI Drugs in Brittany Baker Death

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Published on July 30 2014 11:57 am
Written by Greg Sapp

Effingham resident Melly Hofer has pleaded guilty to aggravated DUI drugs causing death. The charge stems from the crash on US 45 near Dutch Lane last December 5 that resulted in the death of a Watson teenager.

The 35-year-old Hofer admitted Wednesday morning in Effingham County Circuit Court that she was under the influence of three different drugs when driving the vehicle that crossed the centerline of US 45 and struck a vehicle driven by 18-year-old Brittany Baker of Watson. Baker was headed to Effingham High School where she was a senior.

Defense attorney Ed Deters said Hofer "wanted to accept responsibility by pleading guilty" and "wanted to spare the (Baker) family from a trial".  

The charge is a Class 2 felony, punishable by three to 14 years in prison. Assistant State's Attorney Scott Ealy said prosecutors agreed to seek no more than six years in prison at sentencing and Judge Allan Lolie agreed this morning to abide by that agreement.

For his part, Brittany Baker's father said whatever sentence Hofer receives is "not enough". He said "as far as I'm concerned, she murdered my daughter".

Sentencing is set for 1pm on September 23.

In establishing a factual basis for the charge, Ealy said State Trooper Ron Will would have testified that witnesses told him Hofer pulled out onto the highway in front of him and then swerved back and forth a number of times before heading across the centerline and colliding with the Baker vehicle.

Hofer had earlier been charged with reckless homicide, but Ealy said the aggravated DUI charge causing a death "trumps any penalty that might have resulted from that charge (reckless homicide)". 

Hofer remains in custody in Effingham County Jail.