A Cochranton area man faces up to five years in prison for causing the death of a 28-year-old Cochranton woman last September in a utility task vehicle crash when his blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit.

Mario Austin Battellino, 27, of 20405 Lauderbaugh Road, pleaded guilty Thursday to involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence charges before Crawford County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Anthony Vardaro. The involuntary manslaughter count, a first-degree misdemeanor, has a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Battellino was charged by Pennsylvania State Police with involuntary manslaughter and other counts for causing the Sept. 8, 2018, death of Deanna Christine Kuzenko, who was a passenger on the UTV that Battellino crashed.

Battellino’s blood alcohol level was measured at 0.18 percent, according to the criminal complaint filed by police in the case. Under Pennsylvania law, a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent is considered to be under the influence of alcohol if operating a vehicle.

Battellino was the driver of an Arctic Cat Prowler side-by-side vehicle in a gravel pit located off the far north end of Campbell Road in Union Township, approximately four miles south of Meadville, according to the complaint.

When Battellino failed to negotiate a steep grade, the UTV rolled, ejecting two female passengers, according to the complain. Kuzenko was pronounced dead at the scene from her injuries.

Battellino initially was charged with a first-degree misdemeanor charge of involuntary manslaughter, three second-degree misdemeanor counts of recklessly endangering another person, two ungraded misdemeanor charges of DUI — general impairment and DUI — highest rate of alcohol and a summary charge of driving an unregistered vehicle.

As part of a plea deal with the Crawford County District Attorney’s Office, Battellino agreed to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter and DUI and the other charges won’t be prosecuted.

Battellino remains free on $25,000 unsecured bond awaiting sentencing Oct. 31. 

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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