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RENSSELAER — Truck driver Joseph Bland entered a plea agreement with the Jasper County Circuit Court on May 18, pleading guilty to a charge of criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon.

The charge is a Class 6 felony.

A sentencing hearing is set for July 6, with Judge John Potter presiding.

Bland, 46, was initially charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death — a Class 5 felony — and criminal recklessness, but the first charge was dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

He faces 912 days suspended to time serve in the Indiana Department of Corrections and 240 hours of community service through Jasper County Community Corrections.

Bland, of Terre Haute, is charged with failing to stop after his semi drove over a car driven by Melissa Deno, 40, of Rensselaer at the intersection of State Road 16 and U.S. 231 on Oct. 19, 2018.

Deno died from injuries sustained in the crash.

Bland, who was employed with Rosnett Semi-Trailer Sales Repair Leasing, Inc., Cooling Concepts in Terre Haute at the time, surrendered to deputies at the Jasper County Jail on Dec. 8, 2019 then posted a $1,500 cash bond and was released.

The Estate of Melissa Deno has filed a civil suit against Rosnett Semi-Trailer Sales and Bland in Deno’s death in Jasper County. A pretrial conference in that case will be held Aug. 30 in circuit court with Potter presiding.

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