Judge Paul Cherry sentenced Michael Keith Rose, 30, of Woodland, to state prison after he pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle.
Rose was involved in a two-vehicle crash on Dec. 20, 2019 that resulted in the death of Nathaniel Canfield, 30, of Curwensville.
Rose pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle, a felony of the third degree, and was sentenced to serve a minimum of 18 months and a maximum of seven years in state prison as recommended by the probation department.
It was an open plea, meaning the commonwealth and the defense couldn’t come to an agreement on a minimum sentence, leaving it to the presiding judge to decide.
Rose’s attorney, Jendi Schwab of the public defender’s office, said this is a tragic case but argued the probation department’s recommendation is the maximum prison time in the aggravated range of the sentencing guidelines, and argued Rose’s offense doesn’t warrant sentencing in the aggravated range and instead asked Cherry to sentence him in the standard range.
“I don’t think there is sufficient reason to go in the aggravated range,” Schwab said.
Rose also apologized to Canfield’s family during the hearing and said he takes responsibility for his actions
Rose participated in the hearing via video teleconferencing.
Clearfield County District Attorney Ryan Sayers asked Cherry to give Rose the maximum as recommended by the probation department due to the seriousness of the offense and argued that there are sufficient facts to sentence Rose in the aggravated range.
“He took the life of another individual right before Christmas two years ago,” Sayers said.
And although Rose apologized, Sayers said he doesn’t know if he is sincere or is only saying it for the purposes of court.
Cherry said he gave Rose the sentence due to the seriousness of the charge and said Rose twice violated his supervised bail, showing that he is not amenable to a county jail sentence.
In addition to the homicide by vehicle charge, Rose also pleaded guilty involuntary manslaughter, which merged with the homicide by vehicle charge for the purposes of sentencing.
He was also sentenced on the following summary charges: careless driving-unintentional death $500 fine plus costs obedience to traffic control devices, $160 fine plus costs; failure to keep right, $35 fine plus costs, driving at safe speed $35 plus costs.
According to the police report, the crash occurred on state Route 729 in Ferguson Township south of Lumber City. Canfield was driving a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado north when a 2012 Dodge Ram driven by Rose, of Woodland, was traveling south. Rose failed to negotiate a right hand turn in the roadway. Rose’s truck hit Canfield’s truck head-on, causing both vehicles to come to a final rest on the roadway.
Canfield’s truck caught fire after impact. A “good samaritan” who came upon the crash hooked a chain to the driver’s side door of Canfield’s truck and pulled the door off in an effort to remove Canfield from the wreckage.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, troopers arrived on scene and emergency responders were performing life saving measures on Canfield while firefighters extinguished the vehicle fire.
Deputy Coroner Gilbert Stevenson pronounced Canfield dead at the scene.
Police spoke with Rose in the back of an ambulance while at the scene. Rose said he slid on ice causing him to lose control of his vehicle and his vehicle traveled into the oncoming lane of travel, striking Canfield’s vehicle head-on. Rose was then taken from the scene by ambulance.
State police spoke to two witnesses who said they did not see any ice on the roadway.
On Jan. 28, 2019 state police received the autopsy report on Canfield, which listed the cause of death as hypoxia (lack of oxygen) due to the flash fire in the vehicle. Retroperitoneal hemorrhage (internal bleeding in the abdomen) due to a motor vehicle crash was listed as a contributing factor.
On Feb. 11, 2019 police received the crash reconstruction report which determined Rose was traveling at 56 mph in a 35 mph zone just before the crash.
On Feb. 17, 2019 police received Rose’s medical records from UPMC Altoona, which showed Rose had methamphetamine in his system at the time of the crash.