Hit-and-run suspect pleads guilty

CENTREVILLE — A man involved in a hit-and-run in the parking lot of Meijer in Three Rivers pleaded guilty in St. Joseph County Circuit Court Monday.

Thomas Stambaugh, 27, pleaded guilty to driving on a suspended license causing death in the June hit-and-run death of 62-year-old Laura Jacobs of Three Rivers.

Circuit Court Judge Paul Stutesman said the charge normally carries a 15-year sentence and/or a fine of $2,500 to $10,000, and vehicle forfeiture. As a habitual fourth offense, Stutesman said, the charge could potentially carry a life sentence or any term of years.

As part of the plea deal, the other count against Stambaugh, failure to stop at the scene of an accident when at fault resulting in death, was dropped.

The incident in question occurred June 18 around 1:05 p.m. in the parking lot of the Three Rivers Meijer store. Upon arrival at the scene, paramedics attempted life-saving measures on Jacobs, but were unsuccessful. After an investigation, Stambaugh was found by the Michigan State Police’s fugitive team on Friday, July 17 at a home on Featherstone Road in Constantine, and was placed in the St. Joseph County Jail on unrelated charges of absconding parole. Three Rivers police requested charges in the hit-and-run on July 24.

During the hearing Monday, Stambaugh confirmed that he was operating a vehicle at the time in the Meijer parking lot, he caused the death of Jacobs, has three previous felony convictions, and he did not have a license at the time of the incident. His lawyer, David Marvin, added that Stambaugh “never had a license in his life.”

Stutesman accepted the plea, and Stambaugh is expected to be sentenced on Nov. 13.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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