A Chandler man who was listed on a trooper's report as being intoxicated when his pickup struck an SUV in August and killed a college student near Asher has entered a not guilty plea to a second-degree murder charge. His next court date was scheduled in April.

A Chandler man who was listed on a trooper's report as being intoxicated when his pickup struck an SUV in August and killed a college student near Asher has entered a not guilty plea to a second-degree murder charge. His next court date was scheduled in April.

Johnny Lee Morton III, 25, appeared in Pottawatomie County District Court for a formal arraignment during this week's felony docket; he previously waived his right to a preliminary hearing in the case.

The accident on U.S. 177 north of Asher on Aug. 10 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 an Oklahoma City hospital for treatment of head injuries, the patrol reported.

At the time of the crash, Morton was under driver license restrictions and also had alcohol-related charges awaiting adjudication in Lincoln County.

Days after the fatal accident, the OHP turned its report over to District Attorney Richard Smothermon's office and prosecutors moved quickly to file charges on Aug. 18.

Upon filing of what was initially recorded as a felony manslaughter charge and a misdemeanor DUI count, both the OHP and district attorney confirmed that Morton, at the time of the Asher accident, had a driver license restriction for an ignition interlock device for previous DUI cases that were pending adjudication.

OHP Capt. Paul Timmons said the truck that Morton was driving that night was not equipped with the device; such devices prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking because a breathalyzer checks the driver's breath.

Court records show the charges relating to Hamm's death were amended in late September to reflect a second-degree murder count and the waiver of preliminary hearing was filed Dec. 8. Following this week's not guilty plea, Morton was scheduled to reappear before a judge during a court docket scheduled April 25.

The charges filed in the other alcohol-related cases that Morton faces in Lincoln County are listed on court records as being transferred to Pottawatomie County. Watch for updates.