Fort Wayne teen pleads guilty to driving 90 mph in Mustang before crash that killed man, injured 2

MAY 10, 2018; Lisa M Esquivel Long;

A now-18-year-old man could spend five years on probation after pleading guilty Thursday to causing a crash that killed a man, two days before the first anniversary of the fatal crash in Roanoke.


Liam B. Burke of the 3700 block of Stone Creek Run pleaded guilty to reckless homicide and criminal recklessness, both felonies, and misdemeanor criminal recklessness before Judge John Surbeck in Allen Superior Court in the death of Fred W. Neuls, 73, and the injury of one of Burke’s two passengers.

Burke could have received 9½ years if he’d been convicted on all three counts at a trial scheduled for June 12-15. If Surbeck accepts the agreement at Burke’s June 15 sentencing, Burke will have his sentence – 6 years on the first count and 2½ years on the second count, to be served one after the other, and a year on the third count to be served at the same time of the others – to be converted into the five years on probation.

A second felony criminal recklessness charge was dropped and the misdemeanor charge was added, per the agreement.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in Allen Superior Court, the following occurred:

Burke, then 17, was driving a 2015 Ford Mustang GT in the 13100 block of Ernst Road when he struck Neuls, who was going west on Ernst and turning south into a driveway when the Mustang hit Neuls’ 2014 Toyota Scion XB.

Investigators looked at the Mustang’s event data recorder, which showed the vehicle was traveling 90 mph 1.5 seconds before the impact and it was going 71.6 mph when the crash occurred. At those speeds, “he was operating the Ford Mustang in a manner that fits the legal definition of a deadly weapon.”

The posted speed limit was 40 mph.

The impact caused the Toyota to roll over into some trees. Neuls died 12 days later from the head trauma he suffered in the crash.

The Mustang went into some trees, and Burke’s two passengers were injured, one of whom suffered head and facial trauma and was unconscious at the scene. Burke told police and signed a statement that he was going 45 mph. However, tests showed at that speed, the Toyota would have been able to make the turn while the Mustang was 300 feet away from it.