This has been a long and arduous journey legal journey (continuing on as of 2014 still dealing with pcr motions. And I see a number of pro per motions in Oct 2016). The human and societal costs are staggering.
For starters, one victim, a motorist, dead. A number of injured motorists. The suspect, locked up since the crash on December 24, 2007.
Christopher Lee Smith, 32 years old, stands accused of DUI and manslaughter in a wrong-way, head-on collision on Pecos Road near 14th Street in Phoenix, AZ.
According to the Ahwatukee Foothills news story; “At the time of the crash, Smith was on probation for a previous misdemeanor DUI…” Continue reading Christmas Eve ’07 crash trial, verdict: guilty
A cyclist was seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver in Mesa in the early-evening timeframe. Monday Aug 24, 2009. Police arrested Benito Gil-Mendoza, 31, on suspicion of aggravated assault and hit-and-run.
The azcentral story says the collision was 6:30p. Sunset that day in Phoenix is 7:03p. No mention of lights was made in either of the news stories.
How will this one play out? After all, three hours is a long time. The suspect will likely deny he was drunk at the time.
Continue reading Another hit-and-run; this time Mesa
There has been a third fatal hit-and-run in Phoenix, the third within two months — one in June, one in July and one (so far) in August.
Just after midnight this past Saturday, 52 year old cyclist Charles Waldrop was killed by a hit and run driver who witnesses say was driving at a high rate of speed and swerving. Police say an anonymous tip lead to the apprehension and arrest of 23 y.o. Timothy Kissida after he traded (via the “Cash for Clunkers” program) a light blue 1992 BMW 325i w/damage consistent with hit-and-run. He was booked into the Maricopa County jail and charged with leaving the scene of a fatal collision and tampering with evidence. (KPHO, abc15, azcentral) (CAzBike blog). According to case minutes from 04/08/2010 “The parties anticipate that this matter will resolve prior to Trial.”. Kissida was ultimately sentenced to 10.5 years in prison.
This is disturbingly similar to another incident just 4 weeks ago; also in Phoenix, also in the early morning hours of Saturday, also hit-and-run. In that case, though, police apprehended and was arrested someone soon after the collision. See South Phoenix Hit-and-run for details on that incident.
There was a third nighttime hit-and-run fatality in Phoenix back in June, see Driver confesses to hit-and-run killing
As a note on media coverage; something I normally have complaints about, I have to give credit where it is due — The azcentral.com (and abc15.com carried the same quotes), sourced to police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson was unambiguous: “The cyclist, 52, was riding home from work and was in full compliance with the bicycle laws. He was riding with a bike light and a rear flashing light in the bike lane.” In the June fatality, police said “Police say that Thompson was riding his bike legally”.
Recap of the Criminal Cases
Index to the three, with outcomes, all drivers were caught and were subsequently convicted of various crimes, though the outcome varied quite a bit:
- June incident: driver worked a plea for simple hit-and-run; very brief sentence. Presumably because there was apparently no impairment.
- July incident: driver went to a full trial — found guilty of neg hom among other crimes. Was sentenced to 6 year PLUS a consecutive 3.5 years for the hit-and-run (VERY unusual) — this seems to be his “punishment” for going to trial vs. working a plea deal.
- August incident: driver plead to manslaughter and got 10.5 years. due to plea deal, the hit-and-run he also plead to netted no incarceration.
2009 AZ Cyclist Fatality Grid