By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
A judge is expected to sentence a semi-truck truck driver to at least 10 years in prison after the defendant pleading guilty in court for causing a crash that killed a Yukon businessman.
Wynnewood’s Donald Garrett Biffle, 27, has waived his right to a jury trial in Canadian County District Court. The defendant faces felony charges of second-degree murder, unlawful possession of controlled dangerous substance and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.
The defendant was formally charged this April for his role in a fatal traffic collision Nov. 24, 2019 at the SH-66 and Banner Road intersection.
Yukon’s Ray Lee Davis, 73, died at the scene of blunt force trauma after Biffle allegedly failed to yield by running through a stop sign. Davis, 73, was a U.S. Navy veteran who owned a retail carpet store in Yukon.
A jury trial that was set Jan. 4, 2021 has been stricken. Instead, Biffle is due to appear at a Feb. 10th sentencing hearing before District Judge Jack McCurdy.
At a Dec. 17th court hearing, Judge McCurdy accepted Biffle’s decision to plead guilty on all three counts and waive his right to the trial.
By the defendant entering a “blind plea” to the charges, any sentence will be up to the judge – and not be given by a jury.
Judge McCurdy advised Biffle that his guilty plea “represents a conviction” and the “minimum mandatory sentence” for second-degree murder is 10 years. By state law, Biffle will be required to serve at least 85% of the sentence for committing this violent crime.
Second-degree murder is punishable by 10 years to life in prison. Biffle faces up to two more years in jail and/or fines totaling $2,000 on the drug charges.
The judge ordered a pre-sentence investigation on Biffle to be completed by Jan. 28 by the state Department of Corrections.
Biffle had a driving under the influence conviction in Oklahoma County in November 2012, court records show.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Investigators say Biffle was driving a 1996 Peterbilt semi-truck and trailer on Nov. 24, 2019 while under the influence of methamphetamine when he collided with Yukon’s Davis, who was operating a 2019 Kawasaki motorcycle.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol cited Biffle – who was driving northbound on Banner Road – for failing to yield because he ran through a stop sign at SH-66.
Davis crashed into the driver’s side of the semi-truck and was pronounced dead at the scene due to blunt force trauma, according to an OHP report.
Davis was wearing a helmet while riding his motorcycle along SH-66, which – at the time – did not have westbound or eastbound stop signs at the Banner Road intersection.
The SH-66/Banner Road intersection has been the site of several dozen serious traffic accidents, including several fatalities, since the early 1990s.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation plans to make permanent upgrades to the intersection, such as traffic signal lights or a roundabout.
A four-way stop with flashing red lights, large advance warning signs and rumble strips were installed in February as interim safety measures.