the automobile driver hit-and-ran (all 5 incidents)
DUI on the part of the automobile driver is suspected (at least 4 of the 5 incidents)
time of day was overnight/early morning (ranging from 10pm to 4am)
no improper actions on the part of the cyclist are suspected (all 5 incidents)
The suspect was later charged with manslaughter and leaving the scene, on Sept 28 he plead not guilty; and according to the Mojave Daily News, has secured himself all-star Scottsdale DUI lawyer Scott Maasen. In granting the reduced bond, the judge expressed reservations and then … did it anyway! It was also revealed in that story that the defendant has an outstanding warrant for DUI in Nevada, which he says he is not aware of.
The defendant plead guilty to manslaughter, leaving the scene, and DUI. Sentencing is scheduled for May 21, 2010. Case number S-8015-CR-200900986, online lookup.
Judge Steven Conn sentenced Gagliardi to prison for 13 years for both felony crimes (8 for the manslaughter, 5 for hit-and-run), saying the two charges were separate crimes and deserved consecutive sentences. He only found a lack of criminal record as a mitigating factor and that Gagliardi also had about 20 moving violations, mostly for speeding. He found aggravating factors that Gagliardi’s blood alcohol rate was more than twice the legal limit and the emotional harm to Castilleja’s family. The judge also said he hoped the sentences would be a deterrent to people who visit the casinos and drink then get into their cars to drive home.
A cyclist was killed in Phoenix Friday night; this area is west of the airport and just north of I-17. The victim was later identified: “Phoenix Police Sgt. Trent Crump said 70-year-old Lorenzo Nevares was riding on 7th Avenue just north of Interstate 17 when he was struck around 8:30 p.m” [abc15]
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.
According to MCSO, on 8/15/2009 ~2am three cyclists were EB on Ocotillo Rd ne
ar 228th St, the motorist was WB in the EB lane — i.e. head on. The motorist fled the scene and MCSO later arrested Gary Foshe, 53. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) provides police services to the town of Queen Creek. The name of the suspect is probably actually Gary Lynn Foshee — there is a 53 year old by that name with a civil traffic case in justice court June
of this year (is that in addition to the DUI in Scottsdale 2006, mentioned in the EV Trib article below?).
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.
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.
Marcello Rojas, 43, the driver of a 2006 BMW was stopped for speeding June 9 ~ 10pm — this is unrelated to the crash. At that time he told police “he hit a guy on a bicycle”. According to police the victim, Billy Ray Thompson, was riding westbound on Broadway “perfectly legally” which i took to mean, but the story doesn’t elaborate, that he was properly lighted/reflectored. No dui is suspected.
Superior Court Docket, case number CR2009-138233. According to the minute entry on 2/9/2010 Rojas plead guilty to hit-and-run w/death and was sentenced to 7 weeks in county jail with credit for 52 days already served (which i take to mean, he’s done with jail already); and a year probation.
According to the minute entry that went over the plea deal; apparently by pleading he got 28-661 knocked down to a class 3 felony (leaving the scene of a fatality that was not his fault. Versus a class 2 if it was his fault). Then, for whatever reason, for the purposes of sentencing this is considered a “non dangerous” offense. Which I guess is why it comes with such a piddly sentence.
This is one of those “it’s hard to know what do with some people”. She’s out there driving around on a suspended license, presumably for previous mis-deeds involving driving. (she has at least one prior dui)
These often make me wonder about sentencing, the prison sentence stems from the aggravated DUI. It would seem to me that 3 years of “probation” for the hit-and-run has no effect at all, because she’ll ostensibly be sitting in prison longer than that. Or isn’t that how it works?
Ex-state employee gets 6 years in hit-run
by Jim Walsh – Oct. 6, 2008 03:02 PM
The Arizona Republic
A former state employee who struck a 3-year-old Mesa boy in a hit-and-run collision in April was sentenced to six years in prison by a court commissioner.
Heather Mariah Grace Funk, 29, pleaded guilty to aggravated driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs and leaving the scene of an injury accident.
The prison sentence stems from the aggravated driving charge. She was placed on probation for three years for leaving the scene of the accident, according to court records.
The boy was riding a tricycle on a sidewalk in the 3100 block of East Cicero Street when he was struck by a red Chevrolet pickup while crossing a driveway, police said. The boy survived. Police believed Funk was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time.
Funk was driving while her license was suspended and had a history of drug arrests. She had been hired by the state as a maintenance worker after her release from prison on another conviction for aggravated driving under the influence.
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