Sparta man pleads guilty in 2015 traffic fatality
A 25-year-old Sparta man pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide charges stemming from a 2015 crash that killed his passenger.
Channing Mathews pled guilty to homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle for causing the death of 26-year old Ryan Johnson of Cataract in a crash on Highway 71 on March 13, 2015. Mathews also pled guilty to second offense drunk driving.
A jury trial had been scheduled to begin November 27, 2017. Following the plea hearing, Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Mark L. Goodman revoked Mathews’ bond and remanded him to custody pending sentencing, which is scheduled for November 27.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the Wisconsin State Patrol investigated the case, while Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Sarah Skiles and Assistant Attorney General Tara Jenswold prosecuted the case.
At the time of the crash police were unsure of who was driving the car. The accident occurred around 7 p.m. on Highway 71, a half-mile west of Blacktrail Road in the Town of Little Falls.
Johnson and Mathews were traveling east on Highway 71 in a 1998 Grand Am owned by Mathews' brother, Craig Mathews, when Channing Mathews, who eventually was determined to be the driver, apparently lost control and the vehicle left the road and rolled over before striking a tree.
Both men were partially ejected from the car. Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene by Monroe County Medical Examiner Toni Wissestad, while an ambulance transported Mathews to an awaiting Med-Link chopper.