Driver sentenced to minimum of 2 years for fatally hitting firefighter on Burke County road

Randall Hugh Stewart (left) Jason Keith Hensley (right) 

A Morganton man will serve an active prison term of 28 to 43 months following his conviction for involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of a Burke County firefighter.

Randall Hugh Stewart, 59, entered a guilty plea during Burke County Superior Court on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, for the vehicular death of 40-year-old Jason Keith Hensley.

The Honorable David Phillips, Superior Court Judge from Gaston County, imposed the sentence for Stewart, who will serve his period of incarceration in the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections.

The sentence was the maximum possible term for the offense based on the defendant’s prior record level.

RELATED: Firefighter killed by suspected drunk driver while clearing debris from road

Stewart also faced habitual felon status, but the defense filed a motion to have that indictment dismissed prior to the entry of the plea. Following arguments from both sides, Judge Phillips ruled that one of the felony convictions Stewart had from California was not “substantially similar” in nature to a felony in North Carolina. Therefore, the habitual felon indictment was dismissed by the court.

Hensley was a volunteer firefighter for Triple Community Fire Department when he was struck and killed by the pickup truck Stewart was driving on October 9, 2017. He had been with the department only eight months.