Man pleads guilty in deadly Decatur Co. pontoon boat crash


DECATUR COUNTY, Tenn. — A man is sentenced to serve 10 months of a 10-year sentence after pleading guilty to vehicular homicide and boating under the influence.

Marcus Hutson

Marcus Hutson appeared Wednesday morning in front of Judge Creed McGinley. He was initially charged with eight counts in a deadly July 31, 2016, pontoon boat crash.

Nickolas Willhoit, 21, was killed in the crash.

Hutson pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide, boating under the influence and reckless operation of a motor boat. The remaining charges were dismissed.

“It’s a terrible situation,” Hutson’s attorney, Bradley Owens, said. “Mr. Hutson regrets that it happened. He’s accepted responsibility.”

Hutson will serve the sentence in 30-day segments beginning Dec. 1 through Dec. 30 of 2017.

He then will serve Jan. 1 through Jan. 30 each year from 2018 to 2026.

Hutson also must pay $350 in fines plus court costs. He is also not to have contact with the surviving victim or the deceased victim’s family.

He also lost his driving privileges for three years and will be on supervised probation for the first three years of the sentence.

April Watkins with the District Attorney’s Office offered the following information about Hutson’s sentencing via email: “His plea agreement states that he will serve a minimum time of incarceration of 10 months. Hutson is a Standard /Range 1 offender with no priors, so the State RED (release eligibility date) is based on a 30% ratio. The crime he pled guilty to is a Class B felony [ 8-12 yrs.]; with 30% of that being 2.4 -3.8 yrs. The range of 10 months was a negotiated term off of the 2.4 yrs.”

Watkins said if Hutson doesn’t comply with all of the conditions of the agreement, the 10 months required time is revoked and he will serve the full 10-year sentence.

“This incident has been tragic for all sides,” Assistant District Attorney Lisa Miller said in a release. “We have consulted with the Willhoit family throughout these proceedings and they have been a part of the negotiation process in this case. While the loss of their son, Nickolas, can never be replaced, the family is in accord with this plea agreement.”

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