Driver pleads guilty, gets 9 years for killing Elder teacher

Kayla Wilson pleaded guilty Tuesday to causing a Dec. 9 crash that killed Elder High School teacher Mark Klusman. (FOX19 NOW/Jordan Vilines)
Kayla Wilson pleaded guilty Tuesday to causing a Dec. 9 crash that killed Elder High School teacher Mark Klusman. (FOX19 NOW/Jordan Vilines)
Kayla Wilson in court with her lawyer, Clyde Bennett, in December. (FOX19 NOW/file)
Kayla Wilson in court with her lawyer, Clyde Bennett, in December. (FOX19 NOW/file)

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Kayla Wilson has never held a license to legally drive in the state of Ohio, but that never stopped her from getting behind the wheel of a car.

Until she hit and killed a beloved West Side teacher.

On Tuesday, a Hamilton County judge sentenced Wilson, 23, to 9 years in prison and a lifetime driving ban.

She pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated vehicular homicide and failing to stop at the scene of an accident for causing the Dec. 9 hit-skip accident that killed Elder High School teacher Mark Klusman, 74.

In exchange for the pleas, prosecutors dropped other charges of aggravated vehicular homicide and tampering with evidence against Wilson just as her bench trial was to begin.

She could have served up to 17 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Wilson has been held at the county jail on $1.5 million bond since shortly after Klusman died Dec. 26.

According to Cincinnati police, she smoked marijuana and got behind the wheel of a car despite never having a license - for at least the second time that week - and caused the crash that ultimately killed Klusman.

Wilson was driving south on Warsaw Avenue, speeding at about 50 mph, when she lost control of a Buick Regal about 11 a.m., police wrote in a sworn statement.

The Buick spun sideways and hit a parked 2009 Chevy Colorado pickup truck.

Klusman was standing at the back of the truck and also was hit by the Buick, according to police. He suffered multiple life-threatening injuries.

Wilson backed the Buick away and fled the scene, leaving him behind critically injured, court records show.

First responders rushed Klusman in critical condition to University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He died at the hospital just over two weeks later, the day after Christmas.

Back on the day of the crash, police found the Buick abandoned at Third Street and Central Avenue in downtown Cincinnati.

From there, investigators say they tracked Wilson down.

She initially gave a false statement, police wrote in an affidavit, and then later confessed to:

  • smoking marijuana before the crash.
  • crashing her vehicle at the scene.
  • knowing she believed she was driving around 50 mph and that speed was too fast for the road.

"She also admitted to knowing she was under suspension at the time of the crash, but did not know she struck the victim," the affidavit states.

Wilson has never held a license to legally drive in Ohio, the Ohio Department of Public Safety told FOX19 NOW earlier this year.

She was caught operating a vehicle without a license or driving despite a suspension four times since she was 14: in 2009, 2015 and twice the week of the crash that killed Klusman, state officials have said.

Earlier this month, the city of Cincinnati held a dedication ceremony to rename Vincent Avenue in Price Hill Mark Klusman Way.

The honor was in recognition of his lifetime of commitment and contributions to the city and Elder High School, where he taught and was a mentor for 51 years.

Copyright 2018 WXIX. All rights reserved.