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Bella Vista man sentenced to 8 years in prison in DWI fatality

BENTONVILLE -- A Benton County man admitted today to driving drunk and causing a wreck that killed a woman.

Kenneth William Cross, 27, of Bella Vista pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and driving while intoxicated.

Benton County Circuit Judge Robin sentenced Cross to eight years in the Arkansas Department of Correction. He must abide by a suspended sentence agreement for 12 years after his release from prison. Cross received 222 days of jail credit for the time he spent in custody awaiting his trial.

Cross told Green he wanted to apologize to the court system, prosecutor's office and public defender's office.

"More importantly I want to apologize to the family and Amber," Cross said. "I didn't mean to hurt her."

The two car crash happened at 1:28 p.m. Sept. 7, 2017 at the intersection of Arkansas 94 and Don McCallister Road, according to court documents.

Cpl. Raymond Triplett with the Arkansas State Police found a woman trapped inside a blue Mazda when he arrived at the scene, according to the probable cause affidavit. A wrecked red Dodge pickup was in the ditch, according to the affidavit.

Amber Ruth Ellen Epling, 30, was freed from the Mazda and flown by helicopter to Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville. She died two days later, according to the affidavit.

Cross was taken to Mercy Medical Center in Rogers for treatment of his injuries, according to the affidavit. Triplett went to Mercy to interview Cross and observed his eyes were bloodshot, red and watery. He also smelled alcohol on Cross' breath, according to the affidavit.

Cross admitted to the trooper he should not have been driving, saying he had earlier drank four "airplane shots," according to court documents.

NW News on 04/17/2018

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