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Former NASCAR crew chief pleads guilty

- jmarusak@charlotteobserver.com
Thursday, Sep. 23, 2010

A former NASCAR pit crew chief will spend at least 81/2 years in prison after pleading guilty this week to second-degree murder in the 2008 death of a man whose vehicle he struck on Brawley School Road in Mooresville.

Timothy Kohuth was driving a flatbed tow truck on Brawley School Road when he veered over the center line, forcing a sheriff's deputy who was heading in the opposite direction off the road. The deputy turned around and began following Kohuth, hoping to stop his truck.

Moments later, Kohuth's vehicle ran off the to the right, struck a mailbox, hit a culvert and then careened over the center line. The truck collided with an SUV, killing Mooresville art gallery owner Wesley Worden and injuring Worden's wife.

Kohuth tested at more than five times the legal alcohol limit shortly after the collision.

Kohuth had two convictions for impaired driving in 2006 and had been convicted of operating a boat while impaired.

He was once a crew chief in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series but more recently ran a Mooresville-based vintage car restoration business.

His plea agreement in Iredell County Superior Court called for a sentence of 91/2 to 121/2 years, but he will receive credit for time in jail awaiting trial, said his attorney, Kenneth Darty.

Kohuth could have faced a minimum of nearly 16 years in prison if he had been found guilty at trial, Darty said.

Darty said he wanted to take the case to trial, but Kohuth requested the plea so he wouldn't have to spend more time in the Iredell County Detention Center. It can take at least several years for some Iredell County cases to reach trial, Darty said.