FRANKLIN, Ind.– A Franklin man was transported to prison just minutes after he agreed to plead guilty in a hit-and-run crash that seriously injured three people in January 2016.
Will Slinger, 30, pleaded guilty Wednesday to three counts of leaving the scene of an accident causing serious bodily injury. Each count carries a sentence of two-and-a-half years.
The judge handed down the maximum sentence: 7.5 years. However, Indiana state law puts a cap on the prison term in this case. Slinger will spend four years in prison, followed by 3.5 years of probation.
He will also be required to enter into a substance abuse rehabilitation program and will be classified as an habitual traffic offender
Investigators said Slinger was traveling at a high rate of speed in his SUV before hitting a 2004 Mecury Grand Marquis on his birthday, January 23, 2016. The impact sent the Mercury into oncoming traffic, where it collided with a 1996 Buick.
After the crash, Slinger fled the scene and went into hiding, avoiding police for several months.
Slinger was eventually arrested in April 2016 after detectives released a surveillance photo of an SUV connected to the case. An anonymous tip led authorities to him, who was arrested but then released on $300 bond just hours later.
According to the probable cause, it was surveillance video that cracked the case.
Slinger’s trial had been scheduled for March, but the timeline of the case was expedited after an apparent heroin overdose rendered Slinger unresponsive about two weeks ago.
Johnson County Prosecutor, Brad Cooper, said Wednesday’s hearing was quickly scheduled after the overdose incident.
“He was dead, his heart had stopped,” Cooper said. “Franklin Police Department hit him two times with Narcan and revived him. And I guess the near-death experience had him wanting to come in and ultimately take responsibility for this.”
After Slinger pleaded guilty to the three Level-6 felonies, the court moved immediately to sentencing.
Another factor in the expedited schedule was Slinger’s criminal past. Slinger already had prior convictions in two OWI crashes. One of those crashes, in 2005, killed April Mulry, whose husband and 5-week-old baby were also in the car. Mulry’s husband, Brian, was in the courtroom for Wednesday’s hearing.
“I could not help myself, I did break down,” Mulry said. “It brought back a lot of the memories a lot of the heartache that I have and continue to have and will have everyday.”
Mulry says it’s been difficult to watch others suffer injuries resulting from Slinger’s actions, and he was satisfied with the sentence imposed Wednesday.
“We all have a sense of a little bit of closure right now, we believe that justice was served today,” Mulry said. “Maybe he’ll learn. It’s tough to say. Hopefully he’s not above reform.”
Grant Black, who was severely injured in the January 2016 crash, was also glad to see Slinger hauled off to prison.
“At least we know for a while, he’s going to be off the road,” Black said. “We’re happy that we got a little piece of justice. And he’s going to be going away for a while, and hopefully he’ll get the help he needs.”