NEW ORLEANS — The man accused of killing two people and injuring seven others in a drunk driving crash on Esplanade Avenue pleaded guilty Monday to most of the charges against him.
Tashonty Toney faced 16 charges including vehicular homicide, negligent injuring and hit-and-run following the crash on March 2. In Orleans Parish Criminal Court Monday, Toney pleaded guilty to all counts against him except the two vehicular homicide counts. Prosecutors insisted that Toney plead to having a blood alcohol concentration over .20, but he refused.
The move is the latest in a back-and-forth battle between Toney's attorney and prosecutors on Toney's BAC and the corresponding charges against him.
The test on Toney's blood, drawn 5 hours after the crash registered a BAC of 0.14. Louisiana's legal limit for drivers is .08.
New Orleans Police traffic fatality investigators have scientifically extrapolated that Toney’s BAC was 0.215 at the time of the incident. At that level, the vehicular homicide charges now pending against Toney would be enhanced as crimes of violence. The charge would carry a 5 to 30-year jail sentence if convicted and Toney would have to serve at least 75 percent of the sentence.
Toney's attorney says there is no science that can prove that Toney's alcohol concentration was above 0.20.
Police say Toney crashed his 2018 Camaro into the neutral ground at the end of a five-block path of destruction along Esplanade Avenue around 8:15 p.m., on March 2. That was shortly after the Endymion Mardi Gras parade passed nearby.
Sharee Walls, 27 of New Orleans and David Hynes, 31 of Seattle were both killed at the scene. Seven others were seriously injured when the car swerved into the bike lane, mowing down the cyclists.
Toney was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, six counts of first-degree vehicular negligent injuring, one count of vehicular negligent injuring, and seven counts of hit-and-run driving.
A trial is set to begin Monday, Oct. 28 on the two remaining counts. Sentencing on the 14 counts that he pleaded to will be scheduled for after the trial.
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