Driver in fatal accident sentenced for culpable manslaughter

Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 11, 2016

The driver of a vehicle involved in a fatal accident on Springhill Road last year has pleaded guilty to culpable negligent manslaughter and possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.
The charges stem from two separate cases, said 15th District Attorney Hal Kittrell.
The accident occurred on April 6, of 2015 at the intersection of Joe Ryer Road and Springhill Road when a semi truck carrying pine logs impacted a white Dodge Ram that ran a stop sign.
Jason Michael Backstrom, then 35, was the driver of the Dodge, while 69-year-old Willie Simmons of Louisiana was driving the semi truck.
Simmons’ vehicle left the roadway after colliding with the Dodge, turning on its side and impacting a tree. The cab of the semi truck was damaged, and Simmons suffered fatal injuries, according to previous coverage of the accident.
Backstrom declined medical treatment at the scene, but blood was drawn and sent to the crime lab.
Investigation into the accident determined that Backstrom was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the accident.
Kittrell said the crime lab’s analysis determined Backstrom had a blood alcohol level just below the legal limit of .08 percent, but also had drugs in his system at the time of the accident, leading to the charges of culpable negligent manslaughter being pressed against him. Kittrell said speed was also a factor.
While waiting for his trial to take place for that charge, Backstrom was arrested on April 30 of this year in Lamar County on the charge of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, a release from the 15th District Attorney’s office states.
Kittrell said his team was prepared to go to trial with the manslaughter charge against Backstrom when he was arrested on the drug charge. When that occurred, Kittrell said it gave the prosecution reason to work toward a plea deal.
Backstrom entered his guilty plea this week and was subsequently sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Claiborne McDonald IV to 20 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections for the manslaughter conviction and eight years with two to serve and six suspended for the methamphetamine charge. Both sentences will be served concurrently.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox