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Man sentenced to five years in fatal crash

VIDALIA — A Monterey man was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday on a charge negligent homicide that resulted form a fatal wreck on Easter Sunday 2018.

The accident killed Betty Johnson, 72, of Ferriday, on the evening of April 1, 2018, on Louisiana 568 between Lake St. John and Lake Concordia, Concordia Parish District Attorney Brad Burget said.

Burget said Michael W. Higgins Jr., 30, crossed the centerline while passing another vehicle and clipped Johnson’s vehicle in the westbound lane.

Following the accident, Louisiana State Police officials said Johnson was pronounced dead when officials arrived on scene. Johnson had been wearing a seat belt.

Higgins was injured and treated at Rapides Regional Trauma Center and was not immediately charged with any crime.

Burget said investigation revealed Higgins was intoxicated with drugs and a trace amount of alcohol during the incident.

“There were some drugs in (Higgins’) system, but the quantity of the drugs was in question,” Burget said. “That’s why he was prosecuted with negligent homicide.”

Higgins pleaded guilty to negligent homicide on Nov. 20, 2019, and was sentenced Wednesday.

Higgins received the maximum penalty for negligent homicide under Louisiana law, which is five years in prison with or without hard labor, and could be eligible for parole after a portion of his sentence is served with good behavior, Burget said.

Higgins was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Austin Lipsey with 7th Judicial District Judge Kathy Johnson, Division A, presiding, Burget said.