No plea in deadly Lake Co. hit-and-run

March 14, 2012 11:49:36 AM PDT
In an unexpected turn of events, the man charged in a deadly hit-and-run crash involving four northwest Indiana corrections officers did not enter a plea during a court appearance Wednesday.

Jason Cozmanoff, 42, had been expected to plead guilty. He arrived for a special hearing at the Lake County criminal courthouse Wednesday at the request of his defense attorney.

During the hearing, the judge issued a gag order on the case. Cozmanoff had his head down for most of hearing.

Cozmanoff turned himself in last week, accompanied by his attorney, one day after the crash. Investigators say he was driving his 2002 GMC Yukon at 60 miles per hour when he accelerated and hit four corrections officers who were jogging for a training exercise near the Lake County government complex in Crown Point. Three corrections officers were injured, but 25-year-old mother and former Marine Britney Meux was killed in the hit-and-run.

Cozmanoff faces a total of eight charges, including reckless homicide, criminal recklessness and failure to stop at an accident resulting in death. He remains out on bond Wednesday. If convicted, he could end up going to prison for 49 years.

Relatives of Britney Meux attended the hearing.

"Just to see the face of the person who did this to our family and try to find closure in this process...just to see what happens with this, and to make sure everybody knows we love Britney... it's really, really difficult to show our support as a family," said cousin Gwendolyn Harper.

The next court date for Cozmanoff has been set for some time in May.