Guilty plea in teenager’s death

Local News

A Blair County man pleaded guilty Monday to charges related to the death of a Hollidaysburg teenager.
Jacob Helsel from Duncansville, is the second person to enter a plea in the death of 18-year-old Mikayla Focht.

Helsel pleaded guilty to a count of leaving the accident scene, where a death or serious injury resulted, and to a count of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.

Police say in April 2017,  Helsel ran over Focht with his jeep, after she was thrown from the back of an ATV, operated by Trenton Bilak. Helsel was driving behind Focht and Bilak.

Last week, Bilak entered guilty pleas to charges including homicide by vehicle, tampering with evidence, and reckless driving. Both men took what’s called an open plea, meaning that there’s no agreement as to the length of their sentences. That’s up to the judge.

Blair County Assistant District Attorney Amanda Jacobson said, “The commonwealth will make a presentation. We can present evidence. We can call witnesses, family members. Friends can make victim impact statements and the defense certainly can do the same.”

Jacobson says Helsel faces a mandatory three year minimum sentence on the charge of leaving an accident scene where a death or serious injury resulted. She says there’s no mandatory minimum sentence on the other charge.

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