Warstler killed Gresham woman, injured woman from Fairview

Prosecutors have reached a plea deal with a 42-year-old man who was drunk when he crashed his truck and killed a Gresham woman in Portland’s Old Town neighborhood earlier this year.

Brent Allan Warstler of Cornelius on Tuesday, June 18, entered a no contest plea to a 19-count indictment before Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Tom Ryan. A “no contest” plea means Warstler does not admit guilt but believes there is enough evidence that a judge or jury would find him guilty if the case went to trial.

Police arrested Warstler on Jan. 20, after he ran a red light in his pickup truck at Northwest Fifth Avenue and Everett Street. The truck crashed into a taxi, sending the truck careening onto the sidewalk where the truck struck two young women. Rebecca Bray, 20, of Gresham, died at the scene, and her friend, Brandi Butner, 21, of Fairview was rushed to a Portland hospital with critical injuries.

The two best friends had been out celebrating Butner’s 21st birthday.

In February, a judge reduced Warstler’s bail from $297,000 to $50,000. He was able to post bail and was ordered to wear an ankle bracelet that detects alcohol. A grand jury indicted him on 19 charges that included second-degree manslaughter, drunken driving, reckless driving, eight counts of recklessly endangering another, third-degree assault, six counts of fourth-degree assault and second-degree criminal mischief.

Deputy District Attorney Susan Howard said during Warstler’s bail hearing that his blood-alcohol level was 0.20, more than twice the state’s legal limit of 0.08 percent, one hour after the crash. Investigators estimated Warstler was driving 42 mph at the time of the crash, Howard said.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Howard asked the judge to have deputies take Warstler back into custody, but the judge noted Warstler has been on release since the bail hearing and could remain out of jail.

His formal sentencing has been set for Sept. 3. He faces a maximum of 75 months in prison on the second-degree manslaughter charge alone. Warstler and his attorney had no comment after Tuesday’s plea hearing.

The families of Butner and Bray have filed civil lawsuits against Warstler. Those cases are pending.

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