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A woman accused of driving on the shoulder without her lights on and fatally striking a longtime Butte teacher and coach pleaded not guilty to negligent homicide Thursday.

Christol Williamson, 56, entered the plea before District Judge Kurt Krueger and remains free on her own recognizance. The felony charge carries a maximum 20-year prison term and fine of up to $50,000.

Prosecutors say Williamson was driving on the shoulder without lights when she struck 76-year-old Dan Lean before sunrise around 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 6 while he was walking the 2900 block of Amherst Avenue.

Lean, a dedicated walker, was wearing reflective clothing and walking in a parking lane when Williamson struck him with her vehicle, police said.

An officer at the scene did not detect any symptoms of impairment, but Williamson did say she had taken prescribed medications including Adderal, a stimulant.

Toxicology reports from a crime lab later showed that Williamson had amphetamine and Zolpidem, a sedative to help people sleep, in her blood, according to the charging document. A review of cellphone records showed she was not using her phone at the time of the crash.

Lean had a long teaching and coaching career in Butte that included time at East Junior High School, West Junior High School, Butte High School, and Butte Central High School.

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Government and politics reporter

Mike Smith is a reporter at the Montana Standard with an emphasis on government and politics.

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