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No Contest and Alford Pleas Entered in Fatal Fond du Lac Motorcycle Crash Case

Posted on Sep 26, 2013

On May 31, 2012, a group of motorcyclists belonging to the Muskegon Motorcycle Gang were participating in their annual ride through Wisconsin. As the group neared Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, a car driven by Clinton Lovelace crossed the center line and plowed into the lead motorcycle driven by Eric VanDam. The car continued to move through the pack knocking bikes over and leaving a debris field that looked like a bomb had dropped on the unsuspecting cyclists. In fact, a bomb did drop in the person of Clinton Lovelace.

Through a number of appearances and legal wranglings over admissible evidence, Lovelace entered pleas of no contest on two negligent homicide charges in the deaths of Daniel Winsemius and Douglas Yonkers.  The plea hearing was held on Tuesday, September 24, 2013, before a Fond du Lac courtroom packed with members of ABATE of Wisconsin. ABATE has been at every hearing and is in continual communication with the Muskegon motorcyclists. ABATE spokesperson Tim Tomann notes that this is what riders do and that ABATE is here for the Michigan riders who cannot attend the hearings.

 At the September 24 hearing, Lovelace also entered Alford pleas on three counts of causing great bodily harm by negligent use of a motor vehicle. Eric VanDam lost a leg in the crash and two others were seriously injured. Alford pleas are not an admission of guilt but rather an admission that the prosecutors have enough evidence to convince a jury of guilt. His pleas removed the necessity of a trial in the case.

Judge Gary Sharpe set a pre-sentence hearing for February, 2014. Originally facing up to 90 years in prison and $285,000 in fines, Lovelace could be sentenced to 20 years after the prosecutor agreed to drop some charges, including some of the drug charges against the 26 year old Lovelace because of problems with the gathering of that evidence.  Lovelace claims that he suffers from amnesia and doesn't remember anything about the crash. That coupled with his no contest and Alford pleas amount to a total disconnect for any responsibility in the crash.

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