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West to be sentenced April 30 for fatal 2011 car accident

Posted: April 19, 2013 - 4:32pm  |  Updated: April 21, 2013 - 12:12am

The sentencing hearing for the Juneau man who pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide in connection to a fatal 2011 car crash will be held on April 30.

Judge Louis Menendez rescheduled it during a status hearing Juneau Superior Court Friday afternoon.

Sentencing had been delayed when the judge wanted more time to decide whether Ryan W. West, 27, had one prior felony conviction or two.

During Friday’s hearing, Menendez ruled West has one prior felony, which is what both prosecutors and the defense argued for in keeping with a plea deal in place.

The judge’s ruling means West will be presumptive to serve four to seven years in prison. If the judge had found West had two priors, West would have been presumptive to serve six to 10 years.

The prior conviction stems from a February 2009 incident wherein a 19-year-old woman was dragged from West’s pickup truck during a drug deal. West pleaded guilty to two reduced felony charges for the conduct, received a suspended imposition of sentence (SIS), was placed on probation for five years and was ordered to serve a year in jail for each count as a condition of probation.

On June 6, 2011, West was involved in a single-vehicle rollover crash that claimed the life of Gabriel Carte, 19. West was charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of criminally negligent homicide in late February, the week before he was supposed to stand trial.

Prosecutors had argued West was speeding in his pickup truck after drinking alcohol when it rolled over near Mile 32 of Glacier Highway. Carte was declared dead at the scene.

Throughout pretrial proceedings, West maintained he was not driving his truck at the time of the crash — he said he allowed Carte to drive, and that they had switched seats prior to the crash.

Criminally negligent homicide is a class ‘B’ felony offense that can carry a maximum of 10 years in jail. Though West is presumptive to serve four to seven years, prosecutors have filed a sentencing aggravator that — if the judge agrees applies in the case — could allow West’s sentence to exceed the presumptive range.

Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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