Rupcke pleads guilty in fatal hit-and-run

SHELLEY BYRNE/The Mayfield Messenger

Jasmine Rupcke (right) and her attorney, Jeanné Carroll, listen carefully to Circuit Judge Tim Stark as Rupcke enters a guilty plea Monday in connection with a fatal hit-and-run wreck.

A Mayfield woman could spend up to five years in prison after pleading guilty Monday in connection with a fatal hit-and-run wreck.

Jasmine Rupcke pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident/failure to render aid, tampering with evidence and failure to register a motor vehicle transfer in exchange for the prosecutor dropping two traffic violation charges and recommending a sentence of five years.

Commonwealth Attorney Richie Kemp also spelled out as part of the plea deal that his office will oppose any attempt Rupcke makes to obtain probation or shock probation, in which she spends one to six months in jail before being released under supervision.

Circuit Judge Tim Stark set Rupcke's sentencing for Oct. 15. Jeanné Carroll of the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy represented Rupcke.

Kemp said he thought the plea offer was appropriate for a variety of reasons, including that investigators had no evidence indicating Rupcke had intentionally hit and killed Amanda Czerwien of Mayfield.

Czerwien was walking home from her shift at Pilgrim's pride about 6 p.m. Dec. 17, Chief Deputy Sheriff Davant Ramage said. The wreck occurred on U.S. 45 north of Mayfield, near the Kubota dealership. Investigators found Czerwien lying in the road, but no vehicle in the immediate vicinity.

Rupcke did not have a driver's license, court records showed.

Kemp said she asked someone else to say he was driving the car and told police she thought she had hit a deer.

"The evidence indicates she would have seen enough to indicate it was a person," Kemp said.

Kemp said even though it was dark, Czerwien was wearing a bright pink sweatshirt, and evidence collected at the scene made Kemp believe she should have been able to see Czerwien from her position in the driver's seat after hitting her.

The convictions stem from what Rupcke said after the wreck and not from causing it, Kemp said, adding that she submitted to testing afterward that showed there was no alcohol or illegal substances in her bloodstream. There was also no evidence that leaving the wreck scene after the impact could have prevented Czerwien's immediate death, Kemp said. If the case had been taken to trial, the most Rupcke could have received was a 10-year prison sentence if a jury ran all the sentences consecutively.

"It's a tragic case," Kemp said, saying he had been in contact with Czerwien's family, who approved of the plea offer.