FARMINGTON — A Rangeley man pleaded not guilty Friday to drunken driving in a fatal, fiery wreck that claimed the life of Rusty Knox, 35, of Wilton last October in Strong.

Mark Garner, 25, pleaded not guilty in Franklin County Superior Court to a Class A charge of manslaughter and a Class B charge of operating under the influence resulting in death.

Garner told a Franklin County deputy last year that he had drunk six beers and was speeding when his pickup crossed the centerline on Lambert Hill Road and slammed head-on into Knox’s pickup truck Oct. 25, according to a police affidavit.

Garner admitted to Deputy Andrew Morgan that he was at fault, saying he was driving too fast and lost control of his vehicle, according to the affidavit.

Both vehicles burst into flames. 

Investigators said Knox was trapped in his truck and died at the scene. His body was taken to the state Medical Examiner’s Office in Augusta for positive identification.

Garner and his two passengers, Dennis Hanson, 39, of Phillips and Felicia Bell, 32, of Phillips, were treated at Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington.

There, Garner told police he drank four to six beers prior to the crash and he didn’t feel impaired while driving, according to the affidavit. 

Morgan wrote that he arrived at the scene to find both trucks on fire and Garner, Hanson and Bell frantic and yelling for help.

Garner’s attorney, Walter Hanstein, told the court Friday that materials needed in the case are still outstanding. He requested a conference to be scheduled in a couple of months. 

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Robbins said that if the case goes to trial it would not be ready until September.

Hanstein said Garner is 25 and has no record.

His parents put up $15,000 in cash bail and Hanstein asked that bail be lowered to $5,000 cash.

The state would not object to lowering the bail, Robbins said. He believed that there had been several bail checks so far and Garner passed every one, he said. 

Garner is expected to appear in court May 15 for a conference.

A conviction on a Class A manslaughter charge carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

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Mark Garner

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