Hollingsworth pleads not guilty in Harrison Ave. crash fatality

2012-11-01T00:00:00Z Hollingsworth pleads not guilty in Harrison Ave. crash fatalityBy John Grant Emeigh / of The Montana Standard Montana Standard

Blood test shows no alcohol involved in Harrison Ave. fatality

Eyewitnesses claim the man accused of causing a fatal crash in August was racing another vehicle on Harrison Avenue and ran a red light before the deadly collision.

James Robert “J.R.” Hollingsworth Jr., 67, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Butte district court in connection with a fatal crash that killed a 74-year-old motorist. He faces a felony charge of negligent homicide and misdemeanor negligent endangerment.

Judge Kurt Krueger allowed Hollingsworth to remain free on $50,000 bond.

Hollingsworth is accused ofcausing the crash that killed Forrest Felton of Butte on Aug. 23. Police allege Hollingsworth’s pickup truck broadsided Felton’s vehicle at Harrison and Roosevelt. Felton was transported to St. James Healthcare, where he later died.

Court documents show Hollingsworth refused a field sobriety test at the scene, but volunteered to allow a blood draw, which was administered that evening at the hospital.

Results from the blood test showed that Hollingsworth had no alcohol in his system, according to charging documents. The Montana Crime Lab test results show signs of prescription amphetamines, but couldn’t put it at a level of impairment.

According to court documents, police interviewed witnesses who claimed seeing Hollingsworth racing with another truck just before the accident. Some reported seeing the traffic signal turn red and Hollingsworth’s pickup skidded into the intersection striking Felton’s vehicle on the driver’s side. Felton’s 2010 Chrysler Sebring was knocked into another vehicle upon impact.

An investigation by the Montana Highway Patrol estimated that Hollingsworth’s truck was traveling at least 57 mph at time of the impact, court papers allege. The speed limit in that stretch of Harrison Avenue is 35 mph.

One motorist who talked to police the evening of the incident reported that Hollingsworth’s vehicle passed his vehicle like it was “standing still.”

Hollingsworth allegedly told police at the crash scene he was sorry for what happened and “felt bad.”

Hollingsworth was arrested on a warrant about 4 p.m. Tuesday, and he posted bond that evening. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the felony count, and up to a year in jail for the misdemeanor charge.

Hollingsworth is represented by public defender Walter Hennessey. Deputy county attorney Mike Clague is prosecuting the case.

The judge set a scheduling hearing Dec. 13.

— Reporter John Grant Emeigh may be reached via email at john.emeigh@lee.net or phone at 496-5511. Follow him at Twitter.com/@johnemeigh.

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