Driver in Gates Pass crash hoping for deal

2013-02-21T13:00:00Z Driver in Gates Pass crash hoping for dealKim Smith Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 21, 2013 1:00 pm  • 

A defense attorney for a Tucson man charged with killing one of his friends in a fatal car crash hopes a meeting with a judge this morning* will convince prosecutors to give his client a plea agreement.

Right now, William Donaldo Pina-Cervantes, 19, is facing between seven and 49.25 years in prison if he's convicted of manslaughter and all of the other counts he's facing in an October 2012 crash.

On Oct. 7, 2012, Pina-Cervantes and some friends were hanging out at the top of Gates Pass when they decided to leave around 1:30 a.m.

Three girls climbed into the back seat of Pina-Cervantes' car and a buddy got into Pina-Cervantes' front seat.

According to court documents, Pina-Cervantes failed to negotiate a turn at Speedway, his car left the road, rolled multiple times and crashed into an embankment.

Marymar Martinez, 18, was killed and Dora Gonzale's spine was fractured. The others received minor injuries if they were injured at all.

Ricardo Sarmiento was driving next to Pina-Cervantes at the same time, defense attorney Joel Feinman says in court documents.

Sarmiento failed to make the same turn and he crashed, too, Feinman said.

After changing his story several times, Sarmiento eventually told police he and Pina-Cervantes had been racing.

Feinman would like to see his client receive a plea agreement for several reasons.

According to Feinman, Pina-Cervantes and one of his backseat passengers, Lucero Leon, told police Pina-Cervantes was not racing Sarmiento. They say Pina-Cervantes' brakes went out.

In addition, Pina-Cervantes' front-seat passenger, Jose Collazo, never mentioned racing to the police, Feinman says.

In addition, Pina-Cervantes' blood alcohol level was 0.059 — below the legal limit of 0.08, Feinman says.

Feinman told Judge Christopher Browning he asked the state to give his client a plea agreement that makes him eligible for probation, but prosecutors declined to give him a plea agreement at all.

This morning, Browning, Feinman and prosecutor Laura Roubicek are expected to sit down to see if a deal can be worked out.

Pina-Cervantes is still hoping for a probation-eligible plea, but "he is willing to entertain any plea offer that exposes him to less prison time than the indictment," Feinman wrote in court documents.

*UPDATE: The settlement conference was postponed until Feb. 26. 

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