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A Pulaski County man who was facing murder charges connected with a fatal accident in Lincoln County pleaded guilty to those charges in court.

Brett Dustin Whittaker appeared before Circuit Judge Jeffrey T. Burdette Tuesday morning in Lincoln Circuit Court and pleaded guilty to two counts of wanton murder in the July 2010 deaths of John and Lavanda Rowland, of Berea, stated Eddy F. Montgomery, Commonwealth’s Attorney for Rockcastle, Pulaski and Lincoln counties.

Whittaker has been identified as “Brett Dustin Whitaker” as well, but he is identified as “Whittaker,” with two “t’s” in court docket information.

The fatal incident happened on July 9, 2010 on U.S. 27 in Lincoln County. According to police reports, Whittaker was operating his pickup truck while intoxicated. The truck crossed the center line while south bound, colliding head-on with the Rowlands’ Toyota Corolla. The husband and wife were in the area to assist in building a church.  

The Rowlands were pronounced dead on the scene that night, and Lincoln County Coroner Farris Marcum told the Commonwealth Journal that police found containers of alcohol in Whittaker’s vehicle.

Whittaker was airlifted to the University of Kentucky Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.

Whittaker also has a prior record in Pulaski County that includes other driving under the influence charges.

Whittaker was serving probation at the time of the accident in connection with a 2006 guilty plea to second-degree assault in Madison County. He saw that probation revoked upon his August 2010 arrest for the wanton murder charges.

Whittaker had been slated to stand trial next week. Montgomery said he recommended a 20-year prison sentence for Whittaker. Since the charges are violent in nature, Whittaker will have to serve 85 percent of that sentence — or 17 years — before he’s eligible for parole. 

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