Driver Pleads Guilty to Death of Crozet Winemaker

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April 13, 2011

A Ruckersville man charged in the death of celebrated local winemaker Daniel Neumeister pleaded guilty Wednesday morning.

William Thomas Thompson, 58, enter a guilty plea to involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence in the October 2010 crash on Earlysville Road that claimed the life of the well-known Virginia winemaker who worked at White Hall Vineyards.

He had a BAC of 0.11.

Thompson faces a maximum sentence of 12 months for the DUI and up to ten years for the manslaughter charge. A sentencing date has been set for August 30.

In court Wednesday, prosecutors described how Thompson's 2001 Ford Taurus was traveling eastbound when he lost control of his vehicle and swerved into a Neumeister's motorcycle.

Crash scene investigators discovered an empty pint of Jack Daniels whiskey and an ABC store receipt for the purchase in Thompson's briefcase. They consulted the store's video surveillance and spotted Thompson purchasing liquor the morning of the crash.

Neumeister's family was in tears as prosecutors described the details of the crash.

Thompson remains out on secured bond until his sentencing date. He was advised by the judge to visit a parole officer and get a pre-sentencing report.

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