A Norridgewock man who was initially charged with two counts of manslaughter in the 2019 traffic death of a Madison couple has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of driving to endanger, according to the district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, Maeghan Maloney.

David “Mike” Obert entered the plea Oct. 12 in a Skowhegan courtroom and must comply with a number of conditions in order to avoid jail time, including cooperating with inspections of commercial vehicles he owns.

If he violates any conditions of his plea then he faces six months in jail, Maloney said in an email Thursday. The manslaughter charges against him were dismissed.

Obert was driving a dump truck on Ward Hill Road in Madison on July 4, 2019, when his dump truck collided with a Pontiac Torrent driven by 85-year-old Joyce Gipson. She and her husband, 80-year-old Keith Blackwell, were killed in the collision. Obert was 51 at the time.

Authorities said early in the investigation it appeared Gipson had pulled onto Ward Hill Road in front of the dump truck, but charges were filed against Obert because investigators said his truck was overweight, he was speeding and his brakes were faulty, according to his defense attorney, Walter McKee.

McKee said Friday the truck was not overweight and the further claims by investigators were not sound. Obert’s plea to a lesser charge was a reflection of the “weakness of the state’s evidence,” he said.

Another factor in the collision were trees that obscured some views of the intersection where the wreck occurred, he said, explaining that town workers later cleared away those trees.

Maloney did not respond to an email Friday seeking additional information about the state’s case against Obert.

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