A man who has avoided prison twice for negligent homicide in a 2013 car wreck in Butte that killed his best friend admitted Thursday to violating terms of a second deferred sentence.
Judge Kurt Krueger said he would impose a new sentence for Cody John Richards, 22, at a later date. He had warned Richards before deferring a sentencing a second time in June 2016 that he could go to prison for failing its requirements.
Probation officers say Richards violated conditions by admitting last September that he drank alcohol and used cocaine and was later arrested for DUI in Jefferson County this past Nov. 21.
Prosecutors filed a petition to revoke the second deferred sentence, and after Richards admitted Thursday to violating its terms, he remained free on $50,000 bond pending a new sentencing.
Richards first received a six-year deferred sentence in July 2015 after pleading guilty to negligent homicide in a 2013 Halloween crash that killed his best friend, 19-year-old “K.P.” Kiel Podgorski.
A former Butte Central High School athlete, Podgorski was thrown from a Dodge Durango driven by Richards after it careened down a steep embankment off Moose Creek Road. Richards, who was 19 at the time, and two other men were treated for injuries and released.
Before the first deferred sentence, defense attorney Gregory Jackson told the court that Richards had been drinking heavily the night before and as a result had an elevated blood alcohol level near the legal limit when the crash occurred.
Richards failed the terms of his first deferred sentence by failing to complete the Knights program at WATCH, a state Department of Corrections DUI treatment program. He had also tested positive for methamphetamine.
He admitted violating terms, and in June 2016, Krueger agreed with prosecutors’ recommendations and deferred sentencing again with an added condition that Richards complete a state-run boot camp program.
Jackson agreed with the decision, saying then that his client was “very much aware that this would be his last chance.”
Krueger admonished Richards that day for not “working hard” to face his substance abuse issues and said if he failed to do the necessary work again, he would go to prison.
Probation officers say Richards completed the boot camp program, but they received reports later that he had been drinking alcohol in local bars. They say he admitted to drinking and then tested positive for cocaine.
Police stopped him in Jefferson County on Nov. 21 on a report of a pickup truck “swerving all over the road,” according to a probation report. Richards was driving and a test showed his blood alcohol level at 0.166 — twice the legal limit.