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Plea agreement reached; reckless homicide trial cancelled

ELLSWORTH -- In a brief hearing Monday morning, just before jury selection was to begin, a plea bargain was accepted, and Hardy White III, River Falls, was found guilty of possession of narcotics with intent to deliver.

The more serious charge of first-degree reckless homicide/deliver drugs in the October 2010 death of Jack Jenkins, 25, was dismissed. That charge will be used as a read-in when White, 43, is sentenced in January.

Under an agreement worked out over the weekend, White entered an Alford plea to the intent-to-deliver charge. His attorney, Eric Nelson, said under that plea, which is rare in Wisconsin, the defendant maintains his innocence but concedes the prosecution likely has enough evidence to convince a jury to convict.

After hearing Assistant District Attorney Bill Thorie's summary of the case, Pierce County Judge Joseph Boles said there was "a strong showing of proof" on the lesser charge and found White guilty of that.

A jury pool of 55 county residents had been called to the Pierce County Courthouse Monday morning expecting a five-day trial.

At about 9 a.m. Judge Joseph Boles called the jurors into the courtroom, thanked them for their willingness to serve and sent them home.

For more, read this week's print edition of either the River Falls Journal or the Pierce County Herald.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.