With her jury trial scheduled to begin, Sierra Nicole Wood, 19, of Purdy, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to involuntary manslaughter in connection with a drunk driving crash that claimed the life of Wood's 17-year-old friend Jessica Pettengill.
Wood appeared before Circuit Judge Robert S. Wiley, accompanied by her attorney John Lewright, and entered a plea of guilty to the Class C felony of involuntary manslaughter in the first degree. Judge Wiley accepted Wood's guilty plea as 62 potential jurors gathered at the Barry County Judicial Center in anticipation of a trial.
According to court records, Pettengill's family was present in the courtroom when Wood entered her guilty plea.
The crash that killed Pettengill occurred at 4:30 a.m. on May 23, 2010. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Wood was driving when her car ran off Highway 76 two miles west of Cassville and overturned. Pettengill, who was 17 at the time of her death, was ejected from the vehicle and later pronounced dead at the scene.
Another passenger in the car, Ronald R. Torrey, 18, of Wheaton, was not injured in the crash.
As required by state law, Wood's blood alcohol content was tested following the crash, and she tested over the legal limit.
Wood is scheduled to be sentenced at 1 p.m. on June 19 in Barry County Circuit Court. The charge of involuntary manslaughter could carry a prison term of up to seven years.