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Jail unlikely in fatal crash linked to marijuana | News

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Jail unlikely in fatal crash linked to marijuana

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- A Lowell man who had marijuana in his system when his car struck a tree, killing his girlfriend, will avoid jail under a plea agreement reached this week.

Brian Welch Jr., 22, pleaded guilty Monday to intoxicated driving causing death for an Aug. 19 crash in Lowell Township that killed Kristina Garza.

The victim's family has been supportive of Welch and indicated they did not want to see him locked up. He's scheduled to be sentenced before Kent County Circuit Court Judge George Buth on Feb. 3.

The Kent County Prosecutor's Office has agreed to recommend no jail time so long as Garza's family does not object. If they ask for some incarceration, Welch will be able to withdraw his plea and take the case to trial.

The pair were returning to Lowell from Belding when the accident occurred. Investigators say his Ford Taurus was travelling on Vergennes east of Alden Nash Avenue SE when the car left the road and struck a tree.

The wreck was discovered about 7 a.m. by an off-duty Grand Rapids police officer who happened upon the scene. Garza, 24, who was in the front passenger seat, died at the scene. Welch was hospitalized for several days with serious injuries.

A blood sample taken from Welch indicated the presence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, according to court records. Police said Welch did not have a medical marijuana card. His blood tested negative for alcohol, court records show.


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