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Man with Multiple Drugs in System Guilty in Crash that Killed Wife

An Independence man pleaded guilty Thursday to charges related to a deadly crash last June.

Yakema J. Buckley, 40, pleaded guilty in Kenton Circuit Court to charges of second degree manslaughter, second degree assault, and two counts of first degree wanton endangerment.

The charges were brought after a June 5, 2019 crash in Taylor Mill on Pride Parkway near Lakewood Drive. 

Buckley was behind the wheel of a Cadillac had been hit by a Chevrolet Suburban after the Cadillac crossed a grass median into northbound traffic. 

Witnesses told police at the time that the Cadillac had been operating erratically since it left Covington headed south towards Taylor Mill.

Buckley and his wife, Crystal Buckley, were transported to University of Cincinnati Medical Center where Crystal later died of her injuries. The other driver suffered minor injuries and an 11-year old passenger in that Suburban suffered a broken foot.

Testing of Buckley's urine determined that he was under the influence of benzodiazepines, fentanly, opiates, cocaine, and marijuana.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Joseph Hill, who prosecuted the cases with fellow assistant commonwealth's attorney Aaron Levinson, applauded the work of the Kenton County Police Serious Traffic Accident Reconstruction (STAR) Team.

"Officer Charles Duncan and Sargent Chris Haddle put together a great case for us," said Hill. "It's a sad situation when a husband's conduct causes the death of his own wife but there's no way he should have been behind the wheel with all those drugs in his system. It's just inexcusable."

The Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office is recommended a sentence of 15 years in prison. 

Buckley will be sentenced by Judge Kathleen Lape on May 2.

-Staff report

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