JUNEAU — Robert Underwood, 49, Butler, formerly of Juneau, was sentenced Wednesday by Dodge County Circuit Court Judge Brian Pfitzinger to 10 years in prison for knowingly operating a motor vehicle while suspended causing death and great bodily harm.
Underwood was found guilty by a court trial in July 2020.
According to the criminal complaint, Underwood was driving a Land Rover on State Highway 60 in the Town of Neosho in September 2017 when he crossed the centerline and struck a passing Chevrolet Trax. Beverly Vincent, the Chevrolet’s driver, was pronounced dead at the scene while the passenger, Bryan Vincent, was flown from the scene with serious injuries.
According to the complaint, Underwood told investigators that he was coughing and choking and spilled coffee on himself, which led him to abruptly cross the centerline. Underwood’s license was suspended at the time of the crash because of a speeding ticket, the complaint states. Underwood reportedly said he had paid the fine, but when he went to have his license reinstated he said the line was “crazy long” and he had an errand to run so he just left, the complaint states.
Underwood’s license had been suspended in May 2017 due to speeding 25 mph over the limit.
Underwood has a long criminal history, which began when he was 18 years old. He has multiple convictions, including felony theft, several disorderly conduct charges and driving-related violations and cocaine distribution.
Online court records state a year before this incident, Underwood caused a crash that injured the other car’s occupants and then 17 months following this incident, he caused another crash injuring at least three people. Underwood also spent years in a federal prison for running a cocaine distribution ring, according to online court records.
“The defendant always has a convenient excuse for the harm he causes. He has hurt five people and killed one in three car crashes over a period of 28 months,” said Kurt Klomberg, Dodge County district attorney, who recommended 10 years in prison for Underwood. “In each of these crashes, he has had an excuse to divert attention away from his responsibility. He is a con man, who will say and do anything to avoid responsibility for the things he does. Now, he is a con man who has killed someone.”