Last spring, Julian Melissinas, then 19, appeared at an Independence home covered in blood and looking for help after walking away from a car crash that claimed the life of his friend, 19-year-old Clint Reno.
Melissinas, who had been driving with Reno as his passenger, later was charged with involuntary manslaughter after blood samples he gave at the hospital tested positive for marijuana and an examination of the wreck indicated Melissinas had been driving 115 mph.
On Thursday, more than a year after the May 18, 2015, crash near Missouri 78 and Holke Road, Melissinas, of Blue Springs, pleaded guilty to the felony in Jackson County Circuit Court. In exchange, prosecutors will not seek a sentence longer than five years in prison.
The plea comes almost a month after a judge revoked Melissinas’ bond after the 20-year-old again tested positive for marijuana during a drug screening. A jury trial had been scheduled for September.
Melissinas and Reno were close friends, said Reno’s family, who attended the plea hearing Thursday in Independence. Reno’s mother, Christa, said Thursday she was deeply upset by Melissinas’ inability to comply with his bond requirements and has struggled in the past year with the lack of details she has received concerning that night.
She had hoped the case would go to trial, if just to bring closure to an incident that remains shrouded in mystery for her.
“It’ll never be enough,” she said of Melissinas’ impending sentence.
Melissinas is scheduled to be sentenced at 2 p.m. Aug. 25.