Hillsborough DUI Manslaughter Defendant Pleads Guilty

Kenneth Delmar Stewart pleaded guilty to five counts of DUI manslaughter and two counts of DUI with serious bodily injury this week in Hillsborough County Circuit Court. Stewart’s sentencing is scheduled for July 17 but his plea agreement with prosecutors calls for a 25 year prison sentence, with 10 years probation upon his release.

The family of those who died in the collision back in 2006 approved the plea agreement, preferring to avoid reliving their grief at trial.

Stewart ran a red light at about 3 a.m. and smashed into a Mercedes. The car contained five relatives who were to attend a wedding the following day. The mother of the bride, Brandon resident Emily Manzano, was one of those who died.

Two cousins died that day. Another relative died a week later. The fifth woman died of her injuries after she returned home to California.

Stewart had two passengers who suffered relatively minor injuries. Lab results show Stewart was driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.12. Florida state DUI law presumes a driver is impaired at 0.08.

Generally, a DUI manslaughter charge carries a possible prison term of up to 15 years. DUI with serious bodily injury charges are punishable by up to 5 years in prison. These terms could be adjusted upwards if the defendant is determined to be a habitual offender.

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