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Accused Jasper County fatal hit-and-run driver appears in court

Accused fatal hit-and-run driver, Joseph Bland of Terre Haute, could face up to six years in prison if found guilty.

Posted: Dec 18, 2018 3:20 PM
Updated: Dec 19, 2018 5:30 AM

JASPER COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — The accused semi driver in a fatal Jasper County hit-and-run appeared in court Tuesday for the first time.

Bland is facing one felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death. At Tuesday's hearing News 18 learned that means he faces one to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine if found guilt. During the hearing, Bland was also appointed Lori James as his public defender.

Melissa Deno of Rensselaer was killed in this crash on October 10th. Deno's mother, Cindy Burks, said one to six years is not good.

"It's a no win thing for all of us, his family our family, nobody's winning here, but we just wanted justice for Missy," said Burks.

Surveillance footage allegedly shows Deno's car hit and drive under a semi. Court documents said the semi appeared to slow to a stop, but then kept driving.

A warrant for Bland's arrest was issued on Nov. 20 and he turned himself in Dec. 8. He is currently out on bond.

"He's got his life and when he gets out he will have a life and we don't have Missy here for her to share our life with her and it's just not fair," said Burks. "He had Thanksgiving with his family and again he'll have Christmas."

We spoke to the jasper county prosecutor Jacob Taulman, Who was sworn into office Dec 18. Taulman is not able to comment about the case at this time.

Bland's next hearing is scheduled for next year Jan. 22 and the trail is expected to starts on March 5.

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