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October 08, 2010 05:52 PM

Jury To Decide Fatal Crash Case

Sioux Falls, SD


A Sioux Falls woman accused of driving drunk and killing a 27-year-old man was back in a Minnehaha County Courtroom Friday, but the case took an unexpected turn.

Tammy Kvasnicka, 28, faces felony charges including vehicular homicide, vehicular battery and DUI.

She was scheduled to be in court Friday afternoon to change her plea to guilty, but that didn't happen.

The charges stem from a head-on collision on Interstate 229 in the early morning hours of July 10.  Five people were inside a white BMW, including 27-year-old Michael Xayavong, who died in the crash.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol says Kvasnicka caused the crash. They say she was drunk and got onto the interstate going the wrong way and swerved all over the road, resulting in the head-on collision with the BMW.

Kvasnicka pleaded not guilty to the charges in July and was expected to change that plea to guilty Friday. But just minutes before the scheduled hearing, her attorney informed the judge and prosecution that wasn't going to happen.

Instead, the case appears to now be moving to a jury trial scheduled to begin January 20, 2011.

The last minute change is a move attorneys call very rare, and means it will be at least three more months before the case is settled and families can have closure.

Kvasnicka faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison if she is found guilty of vehicular homicide. She's been in custody since the July crash, held on a $100,000 cash only bond.
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