Man who killed beloved Michigan pastor takes plea deal

The late Pastor Dean Elliott, 63.
The late Pastor Dean Elliott, 63. | YouTube/ABC News affilaite 13 on Your Side

Marcel Demontae McMillan, a 30-year-old from Grand Rapids, Michigan, has entered a plea deal after causing a fatal wrong-way crash that resulted in the death of a beloved West Michigan pastor, Dean Elliott. The crash occurred on the morning of April 2, 2023, when McMillan drove southbound in the northbound lanes.

McMillan pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while intoxicated, or OWI, causing death and a habitual offender charge, 13 ON YOUR SIDE reported, citing Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker.

In exchange, charges of reckless driving and another habitual offender charge were dropped. McMillan, who has a previous conviction for driving without a valid license in 2021, is set to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. on July 24.

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Pastor Elliott, 63, from Byron Center, was killed when McMillan’s vehicle collided head-on with Elliott’s Lexus SUV on U.S. 131, near Burton Street.

Elliott, who served as the pastor of Abounding Hope at the time and was on his way to a congregation in Manistee for Palm Sunday services, died from his injuries sustained in the crash. He had served various parishes throughout West Michigan, including Living Hope Assembly of God and Fennville Assembly of God Church.

Friends and community members remember Elliott as a selfless individual who had a profound impact on many. Wayne Benson, a close friend, described him as having “very big, long arms of love,” touching the lives of thousands.

“Our hearts are grieving the sudden loss of our former Pastor Dean Elliott, who was killed in a car accident this morning while on his way to a preaching assignment,” Fennville Assembly of God wrote in a Facebook post following the accident.

At Abounding Hope, services involve “drama presentations” where Elliott acted, portraying different characters as part of scripture-based skits or presentations, according to MLive.

Investigations revealed that McMillan had alcohol and marijuana in his system at the time of the crash. Michigan State Police reported a blood-alcohol content of 0.116, well above the legal limit of 0.08, and the presence of THC, the active component of marijuana. This was confirmed by the odor of burnt marijuana noticed by officers at the crash scene and subsequent blood tests.

A witness reported seeing McMillan’s GMC SUV entering the freeway at Hall Street, traveling south in the northbound lanes, before the catastrophic collision. McMillan was also seriously injured in the incident and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

McMillan is currently free on bond.

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