GASTONIA -- A South Carolina man entered a guilty plea Tuesday in connection with a crash earlier this year that killed two people, including a former Belmont mayor.
Lester Saunders Norman, 41, entered the plea to two counts of second-degree murder. As part of the agreement in Superior Court, Norman was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
The series of events leading to the crash began before 10 p.m. on the night of Feb. 21 on Interstate 85, police say, where Norman failed to stop at a license checkpoint. Prosecutors say Norman was on probation for gun charges and had a revoked license. Police allege Norman nearly struck two officers with his black Acura SUV, then tried to escape.
Police pursued Norman, who reached speeds of more than 90 mph, according to investigators. As Norman headed south on Park Road and reached the intersection of Wilkinson Boulevard, police say he struck an Audi driven by Kevin Loftin, a former mayor of Belmont.
The Audi skidded into a telephone pole from the force of the crash. Loftin and a passenger, Donna Deitz, died in the crash. Two other people in a third vehicle were injured in the collision. Loftin and Deitz were returning to Gaston County from an Ash Wednesday church service in Charlotte.
Police said Saunders tried to run from the scene but was caught a short time later.