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Plea deal reached in charges tied to cyclist death last year

Feb 17, 2012 - By Martin Reed Staff Writer

A Lander man accused of killing a bicyclist on South Federal Boulevard while driving under the influence last August pleaded no contest to a felony in the case on Friday morning.

Michael William Sniffin, 30, appeared for a change-of-plea hearing in Lander's Ninth District Court after signing an agreement with the prosecution earlier in the week.

Sniffin pleaded no contest to felony driving under the influence with serious bodily injury under the agreement. Although the charge carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison, both sides in the case agree to argue for a term of no more than three to seven years.

The agreement calls for dismissing other charges against Sniffin including aggravated vehicular homicide, manslaughter and use of a controlled substance.

All of the charges initially filed against Sniffin carried a maximum punishment of 50 years and six months.

The Fremont County Attorney's Office, in charges filed Aug. 19, accused Sniffin of causing the death of the cyclist, Todd Richard Scofield, 50, of Riverton.

The charges alleged Sniffin caused Scofield's death in a collision that happened on the 1100 block of South Federal Boulevard at about 8:26 p.m. on Aug. 16 -- the victim's birthday.

Sniffin was northbound on Federal Boulevard in a 2001 Chevy Suburban and passing a car in the inside lane when he returned to the outside lane, hitting and killing the cyclist, according to court documents.

The Fremont County Attorney's Office alleged that Sniffin was driving under the influence of marijuana at the time of the crash.

Sniffin had been approaching a jury trial in his case, but he signed the plea agreement on Feb. 15 along with his defense attorney, Kathleen Hart Tilton. Deputy county attorney Kathy Kavanagh signed the deal Feb. 16.

Sniffin remains in jail on a $50,000 cash-only bond while awaiting his sentencing, which District Judge Norman E. Young did not immediately schedule.

Under the agreement, Sniffin must pay $3,692 in restitution to cover funeral and ambulance costs in the case.

Sniffin previously pleaded not guilty to the four charges against him during his arraignment on Oct. 20.

During his arraignment, Kavanagh told the court about narcotics allegedly found in Sniffin's vehicle after the crash.

When authorities served a search warrant on the vehicle Sniffin was driving during the crash, "there were numerous bottles of different drugs that were recovered with loaded syringes with suspected methamphetamine," Kavanagh said at the time.

Additionally, Sniffin's vehicle was the target of a drunken-driver report made to authorities earlier the day of the crash, she said.

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