A change at the top has provided a push for prosecutors to seek a reversal in a plea arrangement made last fall with a defendant accused of causing the death of a Stratford man.

Surprise for many was the reaction when Mark Wayne Hampton, 35, of Denton, Texas, announced in late November he was submitting a new plea to his first-degree manslaughter charge.

Now Hampton is likely the one who got the surprise when officials in the Garvin County District Attorney’s office filed a motion this week indicating they are seeking to rescind the arrangement tied to the defendant’s blind plea of no contest.

Hampton was accused in early March 2006 of being the drunk driver who caused the accident that resulted in the death of Stratford resident Weldon Ward, 59.

“This is notification that the conditions of the agreement are not acceptable,” Assistant District Attorney George Burnett said.

“We’re revoking the previous conditions and ask that the defendant receive the rights he had before this agreement,” he said.

“We anticipate taking this case to trial. We’re back to square one with this case.”

Although there was no advance agreement last year involving the sentencing as Hampton submitted a blind plea, Burnett said a deal was brokered under the administration of former D.A. Tim Kuykendall.

The new direction of Greg Mashburn, who was sworn in just a few weeks ago as Kuykendall’s replacement, led to a decision to try and terminate the conditions of last year’s plea, Burnett said.

The agreement called for prosecutors not to offer a recommendation at Hampton’s sentencing hearing, which had originally been set for this week, and no pre-sentence investigation would be ordered by the state if Hampton entered the blind plea.

“The victims were not contacted about it, which is important to us,” Burnett said.

“We didn’t feel like it was a good situation.”

Hampton and his attorneys will next get the opportunity to respond to Burnett’s motion followed by a subsequent response from the state.

After that a hearing will be conducted to decide the issue.

At the time of last year’s accident Ward was driving a pickup that was pulling a flatbed trailer.

Traveling northbound on U.S. Highway 177, Ward was slowing his vehicle down in order to turn into a private drive about one mile north of S.H. 19 in Stratford.

State troopers reported Hampton was driving a vehicle the same direction when it came upon Ward’s trailer.

The Texas man’s vehicle then went airborne striking the top of Ward’s pickup.

Troopers reported the entire cab of the pickup was taken off resulting in Ward’s death from massive head injuries.

Authorities investigating the crash site reported Hampton was intoxicated and his drinking impaired state caused the fatality accident.



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