Daniel E. Musser pleaded guilty yesterday to second-degree manslaughter and other charges stemming from a car accident last March that killed Connecticut College student Elizabeth Durante after he left the Mohegan Sun casino and drove into oncoming traffic on I-395.
Musser, a Navy sailor at the time of the crash, could be facing up to 8 years in prison when he is sentenced on June 30 in Norwich Superior Court. In addition to the second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle charge, Musser also pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment, two counts of second-degree assault with a motor vehicle, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and driving a motor vehicle without insurance.
Musser, who is 25, was drinking at the Ultra 88 nightclub inside the casino before the March 2009 accident. State prosecutor Thomas DeLillo said Musser sat in his car for an hour and a half before leaving the casino although two tests showed Musser’s blood alcohol level was 0.136 and 0.127. The legal blood alchohol limit is 0.08.
Durante's family has filed suits in state and tribal courts. The lawsuit in state court against the bar owners is asking for damages under the state’s Dram Shop Law, which permits up to $250,000 in penalties against an establishment proven to have served alcohol to an intoxicated person who later causes a death. The lawsuit filed recently in the Mohegan gaming court is seeking $15 million in damages, claiming the casino was negligent.
Following the accident, Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell withdrew her proposal to allow alcohol to be served 24 hours a day at the state's two Indian casinos.
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