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Norton man pleads guilty in crash that killed bicyclist

The Akron Beacon Journal: Norton man pleads guilty in crash that killed bicyclist

By Beacon Journal staff

POSTED: 09:24 a.m. EST, Jan 28, 2010

Updated at 11:02 a.m.

A Norton man pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges that he hit a North Canton bicyclist last year, then left the scene of the accident.

Joseph C. Klaus of Mount Vernon Boulevard in Norton pleaded guilty to failure to stop after an accident, a felony, and misdemeanor charges of vehicular homicide and operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse or a combination of them, Stark County Assistant Prosecutor Joe Vance said.

Klaus was charged with vehicular homicide after the July 25 incident that authorities said took the life of Craig A. Kapper, 27, of North Canton, who was riding a bicycle in the 1600 block of East Maple Street shortly before 2:30 a.m. when he was killed.

Kapper was pronounced dead at the scene by an investigator from the Stark County Coroner’s Office.

Klaus drove to his Norton home following the accident before returning to the scene, where police took him into custody.

He admitted he was intoxicated at the time of the accident, and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.106. The legal limit for driving is 0.08.

Vance said the vehicular homicide charge is a misdemeanor because both men were intoxicated at the time of the crash.

Stark County Common Pleas Judge John G. Haas set a March sentencing date for Klaus, who faces up to five years in prison.