York Haven driver who fatally struck Abby Osborn pleads no contest

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch


A York Haven man who fatally struck a Northeastern High School student earlier this year and left the scene has pleaded no contest to some of the charges against him.

David Michael Kent Jr. fatally struck 16-year-old Abigail Osborn with his car while driving home in the early-morning hours of April 23, according to Newberry Township Police. She was taken to Hershey Medical Center, where she died the next day.

Abby was a junior at Northeastern High School.

Attendees leave Otterbein United Methodist Church  in Mount Wolf after a celebration of life service for Abby Osborn Saturday, April 29, 2017. The Northeastern High School student was struck and killed  by an alleged hit-and-run driver early last Sunday morning. Attendance at the service was standing room only. Bill Kalina photo

Kent, 24, of Susquehanna Avenue, appeared in York County Court on Wednesday, Nov. 29, and pleaded no contest to the second-degree felony of leaving the scene of an accident involving death, the second-degree misdemeanor of tampering with evidence and the summary offense of careless driving, according to court records.

His sentencing is set for Jan. 30 before presiding Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner, according to court records.

"Mr. Kent did not realize he actually struck a person," defense attorney Patrick Lauer said, which is why he pleaded no contest rather than guilty.

"That's the only reason he didn't stop at the scene — because he didn't think he hit a person," Lauer said. Kent thought perhaps he'd struck a deer or a mailbox, according to his attorney.

'Extremely tired': "He was extremely tired and fatigued, but there's absolutely no evidence of impairment," Lauer said, noting that Kent had been at a gathering earlier that night and that others who attended reported to police that Kent drank very little, if any, alcohol.

Also, a blood sample was taken from Kent early the next morning, and it showed no sign of drug use, his attorney said.

"We're not making excuses, and we're not throwing stones at anybody," Lauer said. "But that road is extremely dark, and the berm is extremely darn narrow."

Kent intends to apologize to Abby's family at his sentencing hearing, according to Lauer, who said his client is facing a minimum of three years in state prison.

The Northeastern soccer team holds the jersey of senior Abby Osborn during a special tribute, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017. Osborn was killed in a hit-and-run accident April 23. John A. Pavoncello photo

Open plea: His plea was open, meaning it will be up to Judge Bortner to impose Kent's punishment, Lauer said.

"He's never been in trouble before in his life," the attorney said. "He accepts responsibility and hopes the family can somehow forgive him. It's just a tragic situation."

Senior deputy prosecutor Sarah Buhite said both police and Abby's family approved of the plea.

Kent was not charged with homicide by vehicle.

Asked about that, Buhite noted the charge of vehicular homicide carries no mandatory minimum prison sentence in Pennsylvania. But the felony hit-and-run charge to which Kent pleaded to on Wednesday carries a minimum prison sentence of three years.

Abby Osborn hugs her brother, Brad Stover. Abby, 16, died April 23, 2017, after being struck by a hit-and-run driver on York Haven Road in Newberry Township.

She said she would be able to comment further after Kent is sentenced.

More:Hundreds gather to celebrate life of Abby Osborn

The background: Newberry Township Police were called to the 3400 block of York Haven Road about 1 a.m. April 23 for a report of a person lying in the road.

When officers arrived, they found Abby suffering from severe head trauma and they had her rushed to the hospital, police said.

Police said bits of a broken headlight cover were found at the scene, and later that morning a friend of Abby's alerted officers that he found a vehicle parked on Susquehanna Avenue in York Haven that seemed suspicious because it was covered. 

That friend told police that he saw damage to the passenger side front of the vehicle, including a broken headlight, court documents state. It was that information that led police to Kent.

Abigail Osborn


About Abby: Abby played soccer for Northeastern High School.

She loved vinyl records and often wore flannel or tie-dyes, according to her family.

About 450 people attended her funeral service.

Abby's mother, Kristine Stover, has said it was important to the teen that people be happy.

Stover said when Abby saw someone sitting alone, she would try to befriend them.

Abby was a "hero" who did everything with "gusto," according to her mother.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.