- Associated Press - Friday, July 17, 2015

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - A man pleaded guilty Friday in the death of four teenagers who were killed when a pickup truck slammed into a small vehicle the boys were riding in last summer in eastern Iowa.

Joseph M. Connolly, 25, of Holy Cross, pleaded guilty to four counts of vehicular homicide by reckless driving and one count of serious injury by reckless driving, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1LrnJRE ).

Defense attorney Bob Rehkemper said he and the prosecutor recommended Connolly serve a prison sentence not exceeding 10 years. Sentencing is set for Sept. 3.

The trial had been scheduled to begin Monday.

The charges stem from an Aug. 2 crash at an intersection near Epworth that killed Sean Kenneally, Mitchell Kluesner, Nicholas Kramer and Bryce Wilwert. The boys, all age 14, were riding on a John Deere Gator, a four-wheeled utility vehicle often used on farms that is equipped with two seats in front and a flatbed behind the seats for hauling.

Prosecutors said Connolly’s pickup ran a stop sign at an intersection of two country roads and hit the utility vehicle.

On Friday, dozens of relatives and supporters of the teen boys filled the courtroom, with some of them wearing “Bobcat strong” T-shirts. The slogan became a rallying slogan after the deaths of the boys, who would have soon begun their freshmen years at Western Dubuque High School, which has a bobcat mascot.

A number of other charges against Connolly were dropped as part of the agreement for the guilty plea.

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This story has been corrected to show the defendant pleaded guilty to one count of serious injury by reckless driving, not four counts.

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Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com


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