Jalen Carter, top NFL draft pick, pleads no contest to charges in deadly crash

Former University of Georgia football star Jalen Carter has pleaded no contest to charges related to a crash that claimed the life of his teammate and a football staff member earlier this year, according to WSB-TV.

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As part of an agreement with prosecutors, Carter was sentenced to 12 months of probation, a $1,000 fine and 80 hours of community service, WSB reported. He is also required to complete a defensive driving course.

“We are happy that we were able to work with the Solicitor General’s office to reach a resolution that was fair and just and based on the evidence in this case,” Carter’s attorney, Kim T. Stephens, wrote in a statement obtained by WSB. “Mr. Carter continues to grieve the loss of his friends and continues to pray for their families, as well as for continued healing for injured friends.”

Earlier this month, authorities charged Carter — who is expected to be a top pick in the upcoming NFL draft — with reckless driving and racing following the Jan. 15 crash. Police said Carter and recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy were driving “in a manner consistent with racing” early that morning, with LeCroy reaching speeds of up to 104 mph.

LeCroy, 24, and Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock, 20, died in the crash, authorities said. Two other members of the football program — three-year offensive tackle Warren McClendon, 21, and Victoria Bowles, 26 — were injured, according to WSB.

Carter turned himself in after charges against him were announced. His attorneys noted Thursday that he did not cause the crash on Jan. 15, as evidenced by the charges.

“Mr. Carter never left the scene of the accident without being told that he could leave,” Stephens said, according to WSB. “He stopped his car immediately after the accident occurred and ran toward the wrecked vehicle while his passenger called 911. Even after being informed that he could leave, Mr. Carter returned to the scene at the request of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department to answer additional questions and continued to cooperate throughout the investigation.”

The deadly crash happened after the Georgia Bulldogs celebrated their back-to-back national championship wins with a parade through downtown Athens and a celebration inside Sanford Stadium, WSB reported.

In the pre-dawn hours of Jan. 15, a 2021 Ford Expedition being driven by LeCroy left the roadway, striking two power poles and several trees, according to WSB. Investigators determined LeCroy’s blood alcohol concentration was at .197 — more than twice the legal limit — at the time of the crash.

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