A repeat driving under the influence offender charged with second-degree murder in a fatal crash that killed a college student near Asher has been sentenced to 35 years with the Department of Corrections.

A repeat driving under the influence offender charged with second-degree murder in a fatal crash that killed a college student near Asher has been sentenced to 35 years with the Department of Corrections.

Pottawatomie County District Court records show Johnny Lee Morton III, 26, underwent a competency evaluation and was found competent for his case to proceed.

During his court appearance, he withdrew a previous not guilty plea and pleaded guilty in the case. He waived a pre-sentence investigation and received the 35-year sentence, with 20 years of that to be served in prison and then 15 years to be suspended while on probation.

The sentence runs concurrently with two felony DUI cases in Lincoln County as well as a felony assault case, court records show.

The fatal accident occurred on U.S. 177 north of Asher on Aug. 10, 2016 and resulted in the death of Ryan T. Hamm, a 21-year-old University of Central Oklahoma student.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said Hamm’s northbound SUV was struck head-on by a southbound 2003 Chevrolet pickup driven by Morton.

Hamm died at the scene and Morton was transported by helicopter ambulance to OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City for treatment of head injuries, the patrol reported.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol turned accident reports over to District Attorney Richard Smothermon’s office within days and prosecutors moved quickly to file charges in the case.

Both the OHP and local district attorney confirmed with the filing of charges that Morton, at the time of the Asher accident, had a driver license restriction for an ignition interlock device because of two previous DUI cases that were pending adjudication at that time.

But OHP Capt. Paul Timmons said the pickup Morton was driving that night was not equipped with the device. Timmons said it was reported that Morton had just purchased the vehicle and didn’t have the device installed. Such devices prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking because a breathalyzer checks the driver’s breath.

Smothermon also confirmed the vehicle Morton was driving didn’t have the interlock device, which was required by law.

Morton is currently jailed in the Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center, where he will be held until he is transferred to the Department of Corrections.