- Associated Press - Thursday, July 20, 2017

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - A Minnesota man pleaded not guilty to killing a woman in a drunken crash on a dirt road in Montana.

Lucas Keith Johnson appeared in court Wednesday and entered his plea to vehicular homicide while under the influence for a crash that killed Morgan Lee Gaither in May.

Johnson, who was arrested May 18, is free after posting $75,000 bail. A scheduling hearing in the case is slated for Oct. 25, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports (https://bit.ly/2ud3Omd ).

Johnson says he met up with Gaither along with Erika Petersen and Benjamin Mueller on May 17 at a brewery.

Gaither and Petersen had just gotten into Bozeman that day after taking a road trip from Indianapolis. Gaither was starting a new job at a guest ranch

After the brewery, the group went for a drive around the area, Johnson said.

In Johnson’s Chevrolet Tahoe, they went up to Hyalite and Leverich canyons, Johnson said. They later stopped at a gas station for an 18-pack of beer and continued driving.

Johnson said it was extremely foggy, snowy and that the road was muddy and riddled with pot holes. Johnson said he was driving 40 to 45 mph when he came upon a curve that he didn’t see until too late, driving off the road and crashing.

Johnson, Petersen and Mueller were fine after the crash, but Gaither had been ejected. Johnson and Mueller did CPR on her prior to medics arriving.

According to charging documents, while speaking with investigators, Johnson had bloodshot eyes and a strong odor of alcohol. His speech was also slightly slurred. During a field sobriety test, a trooper noted numerous clues that Johnson was impaired.

Johnson said that he had drank four beers over the course of a few hours that night and that the last beer he had was about an hour before the crash. He said he wasn’t on any medication nor was he distracted by his phone or the radio while driving.

Johnson provided a blood sample, but the results were not included in court documents. His hometown was not immediately available.

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