Topeka driver charged in death of woman enters plea deal

Jason Patterson

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The driver charged with hitting and killing a woman during the summer of 2016, entered a plea Tuesday morning in Shawnee County District Court.

34-year-old Jason Patterson entered guilty pleas of felony involuntary manslaughter and a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence in an accident that killed 60-year-old Tara French, of Topeka.

French was celebrating the Fourth of July with her family at her home near Lake Shawnee when she crossed the street, and stood in the median, confronting neighbors about their firework debris landing on her family. It was then that she was struck by Patterson.

Patterson was arrested in September 2016 in connection to her death. The court dismissed two charges of reckless second-degree murder and driving at an unsafe speed for the conditions in an exchange for the plea.

Patterson will be sentenced on December 19.

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