Pleas Entered In Manslaughter Cases

No contest pleas to two manslaughter charges.

26-year-old Edward D. Koch of Quincy, Illinois will be sentenced September 21st on the Class III Felonies.

Koch was the driver of 2006 Mazda sedan that struck another vehicle from behind on Highway 34 near Elmwood on Sunday, September 21st.

Killed were 23-year-old Matthew F. Kirchhoff of Weeping Water and 22-year-old Emily F. Widger of Wahoo, the two occupants of the other vehicle. Their dog Bear, a chocolate lab, was also in the 2006 Nissan Sentra.

Koch, who has been free on $150,000 bond, entered the no contest pleas in Cass County District Court yesterday. In response to a question from District Judge Jeffrey Funke, Koch said he understood the court would deem him guilty.

Julie Bear of the public defender's office said there is no plea agreement and no agreement on sentencing. She said Koch has been attending therapy classes.

Just after the collision, Koch had told deputies he thought he was traveling at 92 to 94 mph. Cass County Attorney Nathan Cox said the accident reconstruction report showed Koch was traveling at 89 miles per hour in the 60 mph zone. Both vehicles were westbound. Sun glare was a factor in the accident.

The impact of the rear collision compacted the Nissan forward to about half its normal size, said Cox.
The hospital draw on Koch's blood alcohol content was .192. A small amount of marijuana was found in the vehicle.

Cox said if there would have been a trial, the evidence would have shown that Koch was guilty of manslaughter in that he involuntarily caused the death of Kirchhoff and Widger by driving under the influence, or driving too fast for conditions, or willful reckless driving, or reckless driving, or careless driving.

Both convictions are punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a $25,000 fine, or both, with a minimum of one year in jail.
Over two dozen family members and friends of Kirchhoff and Widger were in the courtroom as Koch entered his pleas.