- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 11, 2016

EASTON, Pa. (AP) - An appeals court has backed a judge’s refusal to let a tractor-trailer driver withdraw his plea in a fiery fatal crash on a Pennsylvania interstate more than two years ago.

Fifty-seven-year-old Robert Gawne Sr. of Allentown pleaded no contest in Northampton County to vehicular homicide and other counts and was sentenced to 4½ to nine years. He said a mixture of alcohol and drugs prevented him from fulling understanding the plea’s consequences.

A judge rejected his bid to withdraw the plea last summer. The (Easton) Express-Times (http://bit.ly/24Pm6sW ) reports that a Superior Court panel Wednesday upheld the plea and sentence, saying Gawne’s plea was knowing and voluntary.

Prosecutors said Gawne’s truck struck a stopped car in Williams Township in January 2014, killing 65-year-old Daniel Murphy of Hackettstown, New Jersey.

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Information from: The (Easton, Pa.) Express-Times, http://www.lehighvalleylive.com

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