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Omaha man accused of vehicular homicide in death of woman in a Mason City store parking lot pleads not guilty

MASON CITY — An Omaha man accused of vehicular homicide after hitting a pedestrian with his vehicle in a Mason City store parking lot has pleaded not guilty.

Mason City police were called to the Mills Fleet Farm parking lot on the afternoon of June 8th on the report of a pedestrian/vehicle crash. The pedestrian, 62-year-old Dawn Merrick of Mason City, was transported to MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center where she died on June 10th as a result of injuries sustained in the accident.

35-year-old Christopher Rathfon of Omaha was arrested at the time of the crash and charged with serious injury by vehicle, operating while intoxicated and reckless driving, but those charges were upgraded to vehicular homicide while operating under the influence on June 14th.

Rathfon was due in court today for his arraignment hearing, but court records show he filed a written plea of not guilty on Monday in Cerro Gordo County District Court. His trial is scheduled to start on September 21st.

If convicted of vehicular homicide, a Class B felony, Rathfon would face up to 25 years in prison.

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