Attorney: Man May Plead In DUI Crash That Killed Officer

GREENSBURG, Pa. (AP) – A defense attorney says a man charged with killing a western Pennsylvania police officer in a wrong-way crash while he was intoxicated may plead guilty to charges in the case.

Clair Fink III, 33, of Ligonier, is charged in Westmoreland County with third-degree murder in the May 2015 crash on Route 30 that killed Ligonier Township Lt. Eric Eslary and injured his K-9 officer, Blek.

Judge Christopher Feliciani announced at a hearing Tuesday that Fink was considering pleading guilty to five offenses without reaching a deal with prosecutors. He told the defendant to return to court Sept. 16 with a decision or face an Oct. 3 trial.

Defense attorney John Sweeney said there had been “meaningful discussion” about a plea.

“I don’t think anyone wants it to go to trial,” Sweeney said. “He’s exploring a general plea and he has to decide by next Friday.”

Fink told reporters as he left the courthouse that he wanted the case over as soon as possible – “Just to get it done with and so the family can rest.”

When he was arraigned in July, Fink tearfully apologized and said he was wrong and he deserves what he gets. He told reporters “I wish I could go back and change time.”

Eslary’s wife, Mary Beth, said after the hearing that the defendant should be held responsible and she wants justice for her husband, his family and his co-workers.

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