What to know about Chris Soules' sentencing agreement with prosecutors
"Bachelor" star Chris Soules has been accused of leaving the scene of a deadly crash, according to the Buchanan County Jail. Aaron Young/The Register
The criminal case against Chris Soules took another unusual turn Friday, with the reality television star taking the uncommon step of declining his right to be sentenced in public for leaving a crash scene in 2017.
Soules, an Iowa farmer who found national fame on ABC's "The Bachelor," was involved in a fatal crash in northeast Iowa. Prosecutors have sought to punish him for going home before giving a statement to investigators.
Soules, 37, pleaded guilty last year to leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, which is an aggravated misdemeanor. The plea followed months of wrangling over the validity of the Iowa law he broke and the specific facts of the case.
Later, his lawyers successfully argued that a report prepared to aid sentencing improperly included written statements from relatives of the victim of the crash.
Here's what to know about the events that led up to Friday's developments.
Soules called 911 from the scene of a fatal crash in Buchanan County on April 24, 2017, telling the dispatcher he had struck a man on a tractor while driving his truck, according to the recording of the call.
The man on the tractor was thrown into the ditch, Soules said in the call, which occurred at about 8:20 p.m. on a Monday night. "He's not conscious," Soules told the dispatcher.
Soules administered CPR on the man and identified himself to the dispatcher when asked, but then left the scene by walking north and getting into another vehicle, which drove away, authorities said.
Soules was arrested hours later at his home, about six miles away from the crash scene in rural Arlington, and charged with leaving the scene of a deadly crash, a Class D felony in Iowa. He was jailed shortly before 1 a.m. the following morning.
► Chris Soules wreck: Wrongful death claim settled with $2.5 million to victim's estate
Kenneth Mosher, 66, was taken from the crash by ambulance to Mercy Hospital in Oelwein, where he was pronounced dead. He was a resident of Aurora, a town of fewer than 200 people, for much of his life.
Aurora Mayor David Young remembered his friend as a well-liked and lifelong resident. Mosher eventually moved into the same farmhouse on the outskirts of town that he was raised in after his parents retired to Florida.
A U.S. Army veteran, Mosher married his high school sweetheart, Nancy, and had two children.
“He was a wonderful person,” neighbor Phyllis Lentz told the Register after the crash. “He was what all good Christian farmers should be: really humble and hardworking. It’s just so sad when you lose the good people.”
The court battle
Months of high-profile court proceedings ensued. Tabloid media descended to document court appearances and a TV reporter was charged with a crime for recording video in a courtroom.
In the months after the crash, the applications for warrants that allowed police to arrest Soules were sealed indefinitely, and court documents said open alcoholic beverages were found in and around Soules' vehicle after the crash.
Soules' attorneys initially sought to have the felony charge dismissed, arguing that their client did not violate the Iowa Code regarding leaving the scene of a personal injury accident because he both called 911 and identified himself. Soules' attorneys later unsuccessfully appealed for the Iowa Supreme Court to take up the case before it went to trial.
In November 2018, Soules pleaded guilty to a reduced charge.
In conjunction with the plea, defense lawyers said that the tractor driven by Mosher was improperly lit, and revealed new information about injuries Soules suffered in the crash, including a concussion.
Reduced charges and sentencing
The reduced charge meant that Soules faced up to two years in prison, rather than a sentence of up to five years.
A pair of documents filed Friday by Soules' lawyers show that they and prosecutors agreed on a recommended sentence of two years of probation, along with a two-year prison sentence that would be suspended, keeping Soules from being incarcerated. He would also pay a fine.
District Judge Andrea Dryer is not bound by the agreement and must accept it before the sentence formally takes effect. Under the terms of Soules' plea agreement, if Dryer rejects the sentencing, Soules could elect to withdraw his guilty plea.
Shelby Fleig covers news and features for the Register. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 515-214-8933.