Tag Archive for Robert Sam Sanchez

Robert Sam Sanchez sentenced to 4 years for the death of Rod Armas

It’s hard to call something breaking news when it happened over a month ago.

But word is just coming out that Robert Sam Sanchez changed his plea to no contest at pre-hearing conference on June 14th and was sentenced to 4 years in state prison for the death of Rod Armas in Malibu last year.

According to cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels, Sanchez pleaded no contest to hit-and-run with injury, as well as an additional count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. As part of the plea deal, charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI with injury were dismissed.

As you may recall, Rod Armas and his son Christian were riding on the shoulder of PCH in Malibu as they neared the end of the L.A. Wheelmen’s annual Grand Tour Double Century on the night of June 27, 2009. They only had about 10 miles left in their ride when they were struck by a Dodge Ram pickup driven by Sanchez, a records clerk for the City of Malibu, who fled the scene.

The pickup was discovered abandoned about a mile further down the road, and Sanchez was arrested after being found hiding nearby. His blood alcohol level still measured .05 over five hours after Armas was left to die in the road.

Wheels speculates that the delay in taking a blood sample may have led to the decision to drop the alcohol charges, since there may have been a problem proving that he was intoxicated at the time of the collision.

Sanchez was sentenced to four years for each count, to be served concurrently. As a result, he will serve a maximum of fours years; however, in all likelihood, the actual time he spends behind bars will be significantly less.

According to Wheels, this was a good outcome under the circumstances, and Sanchez was not let off easy. He was sentenced to the maximum term for felony hit-and-run, and a mid-term sentence for manslaughter, with a finding that alcohol was involved.

The next step is a Restitution Hearing scheduled for July 30th, after which Sanchez will be required to surrender to authorities to begin his sentence.

Of course, the question is why the conviction received coverage in the news; even the local press had no idea a deal had been reached and a sentence imposed. Dj Wheels had a case in another courthouse on the day of the pre-hearing conference, and only learned about the conviction when he tried to find out why yesterday’s scheduled pretrial hearing didn’t take place.

Maybe they just didn’t want us to know until Sanchez was safely behind bars.

Update: This absolutely chilling comment appeared on the Bike Forums thread about Rod Armas this morning, from a rider who rolled up on the scene just minutes after Rod and Christian were hit.


Click to enlarge.

A raft of bike-related court cases; L.A.’s revised bike plan MIA.

Dj Wheels catches us up on the current of court cases affecting the cycling community — some of which we’ve discussed before, along with a few new ones in the ever expanding list of drivers brought to justice.

Robert Sam Sanchez, charged in the hit-and-run death of Rod Armas in Malibu while allegedly intoxicated, had his Preliminary Setting continued to May 26 at 8:30 am in the Malibu Courthouse.

According to Wheels —

I didn’t see anyone that appeared to be there for the victim’s family, but there were plenty family members there in support of the Defendant. The deputy DA said again that there would either be a disposition on this day (ie. a plea deal entered) or there would be a date selected for a Preliminary Hearing (a mini trial before the judge to determine if there is sufficient evidence to hear the case before a jury).

William Keith Square, arrested in the hit-and-run death of a still-unnamed cyclist in Carson on April 17th, was arraigned three days later and entered a not guilty plea on all counts. A Preliminary Setting was held on May 5th, and Preliminary Hearing scheduled for June 10 at 8:30 am. Notes Wheels, “Funny how when you don’t have private counsel, the process moves a lot faster.”

Angelina Gailine Everett, accused of the hit-and-run that left an injured Ed Magos lying in the street on January 6. Dj Wheels explains —

She initially stopped, but then left the scene without rendering aid or exchanging information with the injured cyclist. The city attorney was not going to file charges at first, but after pressure from the cycling community and a promise from the newly appointed Chief Beck to request that the C.A. take a second look at it, charges were finally filed on April 6. There was an initial arraignment date of May 6, but apparently Everett did not show up. According to my sources, the city attorney might have sent the citation and notice to appear for her arraignment to an old address.  The court’s system still doesn’t have a new arraignment date entered.

Everett is charged with:

1) one misdemeanor count of leaving the scene of a collision where there physical injuries to one of the involved parties – CVC 20001

2) one misdemeanor count of leaving the scene of a collision where there is property damage – CVC 20002(A)

Naira Margaryan, accused in the death of Gerado Ramos 13 months after he was struck while riding in a Glendale crosswalk.

On September 23, 2008, Margaryan ran over a cyclist at a crosswalk in a residential section of Glendale, after allegedly blowing through a stop sign. Detective Mankarios of the Glendale PD claims the victim cyclist was somehow also at fault in violation of the Cal Vehicle Code by riding his bike on the sidewalk. The case was filed on April 30. There was an initial arraignment date of May 13, and the defendant appeared with private counsel but did not enter her plea. Arraignment was continued to June 2 at 8:30am at the Glendale Courthouse in Dept. 1.

Margaryan is charged with:

1) one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence - PC 192(c)(2)

In a non-bike related case, former state legislator Walter Karabian stands accused of assaulting an unnamed parking attendant during a USC football game last fall. Wheels reports that a pretrial conference was heard on May 13, with another hearing scheduled for June 10 for compliance with discovery requests, as well as a Trial Setting Conference. A jury trial has been tentatively scheduled for July 19.

Yelena Krupen is accused of damaging the property of an unnamed victim in a hit-and-run collision while driving with a suspended license.

On December 3, 2009, Krupen struck a cyclist from behind with her Mercedes on Santa Monica Blvd at Bedford Ave. in Beverly Hills, causing damage to the bicycle. However, Krupen immediately left the scene after backing up off the rear wheel of the bike. Another motorist who witnessed the incident followed the Mercedes for a short distance, wrote down the license plate and returned to the scene with the info, which was later provided to the BHPD. After an investigation by BHPD and some complaints to the BH City Council for what was feared would become a dismissal, charges were filed on March 15, 2010.

Arraignment was held on March 26 and Krupen pleaded not guilty to both counts with the assistance of the Public Defender. A pretrial conference was held on April 23, which was continued to May 20. The defendant was not present but appeared by private counsel. She was ordered to be present at the next hearing.

Krupen is charged with:

1)one misdemeanor count of failing to stop and provide information at the scene of a collision where there is property damage only – CVC 20002(A)

2)one misdemeanor count of driving with suspended/revoked license – CVC 14601.1(A)

And still no word on charges against Patrick Roraff, the 18-year old driver who allegedly killed pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado while street racing near San Bernardino on April 8th.

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Remember the new bike plan that seemed to be such a big deal last year? Yeah, me neither. LACBC seems to recall that LADOT promised us a revised plan all the way back in February, and — justifiably — takes the city to task for failing to schedule a realistic release date three months later. And oh-so-politely points the finger at the upper echelons of the department.

Seems to me that if the people in charge at LADOT wanted to release a bike plan, it would have happened already. So here’s my polite suggestion. Either get with the program, or get hell out of the way so people who actually give a damn about cycling in this city can get something done.

Otherwise, you may find L.A.’s cycling community gathered on LADOT’s doorstep with a different finger extend.

And this one won’t be pointing.

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Richie Porte keeps the leader’s jersey in the Giro; Vinokourov starts his comeback by gaining 10 seconds on the leader, leaving him just 9 minutes and 48 seconds behind. Thursday’s Amgen Tour of California was not hijacked by Floyd Landis, despite appearances to the contrary; Michael Rogers — no relation — claims the leader’s jersey despite having the same overall time as Dave Zabriskie.

Landis-accused Lance Armstrong crashes out at the beginning of the stage, while Greg “Everyone is a Doper but Me” LeMond sides with Landis for a change; tune in tomorrow for As the ToC Turns.

Meanwhile, Blog Downtown anticipates big crowds and closures on Saturday.

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Gary gets a pleasant Bike to Work Day surprise — along with some not so nice surprises. Bike to Work Day is celebrated in Claremont and by the LACBC Downtown, while UCLA offers Bike to School Day. Metro offers free rides to cyclists with helmets, but may have forgotten to tell their drivers. And a little Tweet pressure gets Trader Joe’s to think twice about opening in Bike Week without bike parking.

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LADOT continues their advice for beginning cyclists. Pasadena tells cyclists to please stay off the sidewalk. A new OC bike shop will offer dial-up roadside service. Hemet police find cyclists at fault in 16 of 18 collisions; yeah, no hint of bias there. A cyclist in Oakland is killed when he gets doored by a driver and forced into a bus. On the heels of the worldwide popularity of the Tweed ride comes the Seersucker Ride; seriously, does anyone look good in seersucker? Dave Moulton notes that most drivers would give a stray dog more than three feet clearance, so why not a cyclist? The obvious answer is most people like dogs. A cyclist confesses to running red lights, carefully. Boulder CO police are looking for the speeding driver of a $110,000 Mercedes SUV who fled the scene after striking a cyclist in a bike lane. The Washington Post says sharing the road is a two-way street. Evidently, there’s a rash of narco-cyclists in Dallas; oddly, they lifted the photo from USC’s Daily Trojan. A Miami rider says a bus driver ran over him on purpose; the driver claims the cyclist intentionally collided with the bus. Truckers call a proposed new law that would require a four foot distance when passing a cyclist — five feet above 49 mph — “insanity.” Korea prepares a new mandatory bike registration plan to deal with the problem of abandoned bikes. Drivers going through bus and bike-only traffic lights are turning a Birmingham UK road into a ring of death.

Finally, this is pretty much the definition of a very lucky bicyclist.

Local bike cases slowly wind their way through the courts

Cyclist, attorney and court case correspondent Dj Wheels emailed today to catch us up on the current status of the all-too-many mostly bike-related cases winding their way through the local court system.

First up is the case of Patricia Izquieta, charged with the hit-and-run death of Don Murphy in Newport Beach last December.

Patricia A. Izquieta (Case #09HF2198) – Victim – Don Murphy

The Pretrial conference for April 16 was heard, but apparently the Preliminary Hearing which was scheduled for April 26 was cancelled and rescheduled. There is now a Pretrial conference scheduled for May 14 and the Preliminary Hearing for June 17.

She is charged with:

1) one felony count of hit and run with permanent and serious injury – CVC 20001(a)(b)(2)

2) a special allegation of inflicting great bodily harm, which is attached to the hit and run - Penal Code 12022.7(a)

3) one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence - Penal Code 192(c)(2)

4) one misdemeanor count of driving without a valid driver’s license - CVC 12500(a)

Next up is Marco Antonio Valencia, the hit-and-run driver who was reportedly high on alcohol, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana when he killed Joseph Novotny and injured three others.

Marco Antonio Valencia (Case # PA065011) – Victim – Joe Novotny & 3 other injured cyclists

There were pretrial conferences heard on March 23 and April 8 at the San Fernando Courthouse. Another pretrial conference was scheduled for May 18.

1) one felony count of murder with malice aforethought (2nd degree) – PC 187(a)

2) one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence – PC 191.5(a)

3) one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury - CVC 23153(a)

4) one felony count of driving with a BAC over .08 causing bodily injury – CVC 23153(b)

5) four felony counts of hit and run causing serious or permanent injury – CVC 20001(a)

6) one felony count of driving with a suspended or revoked license due to a prior DUI – 14601.2

Robert Sam Sanchez is charged with the hit-and-run death of Rod Armas and seriously injuring his son Chris in Malibu during the L.A. Wheelmen’s Grand Tour last year.

Robert Sam Sanchez (Case # SA071910) – Victim – Rod Armas & Chris Armas injured

The Preliminary Setting conferences scheduled for March 11 and April 19 were both heard at the Malibu Courthouse. Another Preliminary Setting conference was scheduled for Friday May 7 at 1:30pm. What’s interesting is that the docket says, “VICTIMS WILL BE PRESENT TO MAKE STATEMENTS.” I called the DA’s office in Malibu to find out what this meant. Deputy McIlvain explained to me that May 7 is a Preliminary Setting Conference, and a disposition (plea bargain and sentencing) may be possible on that day. However, she is not allowed to disclose the terms of the offer for the plea at this point. If it is accepted, the case may reach a resolution that day, otherwise they’ll move forward with the Preliminary Setting conference to schedule a date for a Preliminary Hearing. I’m going to make my best effort to be there next Friday.

Charges are still the same as previously reported:

1) one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence – PC 191.5(a)

2) one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury – CVC 23153(a)

3) one felony count of hit and run causing serious or permanent injury – CVC 20001(a)

Celine Mahdavi is charged with the West Hollywood hit-and-run (notice a common theme here?) that seriously injured professional cyclist Louis “Birdman” Deliz.

Celine Mahdavi (Case #SA073459) – Victim – Louis Deliz

Preliminary Setting conferences were heard on March 22 and April 23 at the Beverly Hills Courthouse. A date of June 11 was scheduled for the Preliminary Hearing.

Charges:

1) one felony count of hit and run causing serious or permanent injury – CVC 20001(a)

2) one infraction count of a minor driving with a BAC over .01 – CVC 23136(a)

William Keith Square was arrested in the hit-and-run death of a still-unnamed cyclist in Carson earlier this month; at last report, authorities had not been able to locate the victim’s last address or next of kin.

William Keith Square (Case #TA11183201) – Victim – not named

On April 17, Square killed a cyclist in Carson with his car and left the scene. Luckily a witness wrote down his license plate # and Sheriffs arrested him at his home in Long Beach. The Inmate locater page says the arraignment is scheduled for May 5 at Compton Municipal Court. It also says that Mr. Square was arrested on April 18, assigned to permanent housing on April 24 at 4am, and then released from custody at 7:47 am. This is strange because usually it will also state the bail amount, but it doesn’t in this case. Bail for something like this should be something like $100,000, of which a bail bonds company usually asks for 10% to post bond for you.

Charges: (I haven’t seen the docket yet, but I’m assuming the charges are going to be these.)

1)one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence PC 191.5(a)

2) one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury – CVC 23153(a)

3) one felony count of hit and run causing serious or permanent injury – CVC 20001(a)

Former state legislator Walter Karabian faces charges for assaulting an unnamed parking lot attendant with his car during a USC football game last fall.

Walter Karabian (Case #0EA00275) – unnamed parking lot attendant near USC campus

The Pretrial conferences for March 24 and April 23 were heard. At the last hearing, Karabian’s defense attorney, Joseph Gutierrez, was granted a motion for sanctions against Classic Parking for failure to provide subpoenaed documents. Classic Parking is to pay the defendant $500. Another Pretrial conference is scheduled for May 13 at the East L.A. courthouse.

Finally, no charges yet in the death of Bahati Foundation cyclist Jorge Alvarado, who came to this country to fulfill his lifelong dream of riding professionally, only to be killed when 18-year old Patrick Roraff allegedly lost control of his car while street racing.

Patrick Roraff (Case #?) – Victim – Jorge Alvarado

This 18 yr old man killed Jorge Alvarado of the Bahati pro cycling team on April 8 while street racing on Greenspot Road out in San Bernardino. According to the SB County Court online case info page, charges have still not been filed against Roraff.

Hopefully, the local authorities know that the cycling communities of two countries are watching this case closely; the comments in Spanish from the people who knew him are truly heartbreaking.

Special thanks to Dj Wheels for his amazing work in keeping us on top of these cases; if anyone needs a good young lawyer who knows bicycling, let me know.

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In better news, the jury in the case of the New York Critical Mass-bashing cop returned a verdict of guilty for filing a false criminal complaint, but acquitted him of misdemeanor assault.

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A former Republican candidate for Lt. Governor in Wisconsin offers a first-person account of an intentional attack by a truck driver; unclear is whether he was attacked for his politics or because he was on a bike.

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LACBC encourages you to say thanks to your yes-voting council member. USC’s Neon Tommy takes a look at Bikeside, which endorses Winograd for Congress. Stephen Box celebrates a successful campaign to get safe bike parking at the new police headquarters; on the other hand, UCLA’s bike lockers could use some work. Carless Valley Girl debates whether to ride bespectacled; always cover your eyes with something says the man who’s seen bees bounce off his lenses, among other things. You might want to stay off the road while the mayor’s girlfriend is on it.Cyclelicious talks to the producer of the upcoming Major Taylor biopic. A Long Beach intersection gets a road diet, creating more space for diners, walkers and bike racks. Ciclovia comes to San Diego starting tomorrow.

The mindset of the female bike commuter, who rides faster and looks better than the boys do. Biking in Chattanooga — no relation — directs your attention to an exceptional biking artist. The Maryland Senate passes five bike-friendly bills, including a three-foot passing law. The cross-country travelling, penta-biking Pedouins are approaching Portland. A Fort Myers FL ministry donates bikes to the homeless. A kosher Crown Heights bike loan shop turns to sales. NPR offers songs for the urban cyclist.

More doping rumors for pro cyclist Alejandro Valverde. After yet another London cyclist is killed, Mayor Boris calls for more stringent testing of drivers. What to do when you’re riding in Scotland and your wheel falls off. A new British motorists’ guide urges cyclists to claim the lane, while a leading bike group says cyclists could hold the key to the upcoming election. A bike racing Canadian novelist comes to the defense of Lycra with rants tips for cyclists. A day after Lexus announced their high-concept bike, Volkswagen unveils a folding electric prototype.

Finally, Bike Portland discovers, as many of us do sooner or later, that middle fingers do not lead to productive dialogue; I like the advice someone else gave him, “The peace sign only takes one more finger.”

I think I’ll have that tattooed on the back of my hand so I see it when I ride.

The bike court beat goes on

Christian Stoehr and Ron Peterson speak outside the courthouse following the Thompson conviction last November; at left is Josh Crosby, Patrick Watson is partially visible in back. Photo courtesy of Jared Shier.

Cyclist/Attorney DJ Wheels wrote the other day to provide updates on pending court cases involving cyclists.

First up is the case of an Orange County woman charged with striking and killing a 49-year old Irvine cyclist in an early morning collision on December 9th, then driving off, leaving a 300 yard pattern of debris — yet amazingly, was forgiven by the victim’s family.

Patricia A. Izquieta (Case #09HF2198) – Victim – Don Murphy

A hearing was held February 18 for arraignment, but no plea was entered yet and arraignment was continued to March 19 at the Santa Ana Courthouse.

She is charged with:

1) one felony count of hit and run with permanent and serious injury – CVC 20001(a)(b)(2)

2) a special allegation of inflicting great bodily harm, which is attached to the hit and run – Penal Code 12022.7(a)

3) one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence – Penal Code 192(c)(2)

4) one misdemeanor count of driving without a valid driver’s license – CVC 12500(a)

Next is the underage driver with a long list of priors who was charged with killing a Santa Clarita man and injuring three others in a drunken hit-and-run; tests showed that in addition to a blood alcohol level over twice the legal limit, he was also high on methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana at the time of the 11 am collision.

Marco Antonio Valencia (Case # PA065011) – Victim – Joeseph Novotny & 3 other injured cyclists

There was a pretrial conference and re-arraignment on January 22. Four separate counts for DUI — two counts of 23153(A) and two counts of 23153(B) — were dropped. I think the charges were initially filed separately for all the various substances that came up in the toxicology report. However, there are still two remaining DUI counts. He plead not guilty to all the charges in the amended complaint. Another pretrial conference is set for March 23 at the San Fernando Courthouse.

1) one felony count of murder with malice aforethought (2nd degree) – PC 187(a)

2) one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence – PC 191.5(a)

3) one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury – CVC 23153(a)

4) one felony count of driving with a BAC over .08 causing bodily injury – CVC 23153(b)

5) four felony counts of hit and run causing serious or permanent injury – CVC 20001(a)

6) one felony count of driving with a suspended or revoked license due to a prior DUI – 14601.2

Then there’s the case of the Malibu driver who fled the scene after running down two riders nearing the end of the L.A. Wheelmen’s 200 mile Grand Tour; killing a father and critically injuring his son. The tragedy was compounded by reports that the driver wasn’t a bad guy, but made a fatal error by driving after drinking, and destroyed two families in the process.

Robert Sam Sanchez (Case # SA071910) – Victim – Rod Armas & Chris Armas injured

A preliminary setting was heard on February 11.  The court ordered a pre plea report pursuant to PC 1203.7.  Sanchez counsel consented to an pre plea interview, but the defendant may not be interviewed about the facts of the case.  The defendant was also ordered to the probation department and also ordered to appear at the next court date, which will be March 11 for another preliminary setting hearing at the Malibu Courthouse.

Charges are still the same as previously reported:

1) one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence – PC 191.5(a)

2) one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury – CVC 23153(a)

3) one felony count of hit and run causing serious or permanent injury – CVC 20001(a)

In another case, the 18-year old driver who hit a cyclist in West Hollywood last December, causing “massive” injuries — including breaks to both hands and extensive facial injuries — fled the scene, but was arrested less than a half mile later; despite her age, she had a small amount of alcohol in her system at the time of her arrest.

Celine Mahdavi (Case #SA073459) – Victim – not named

This is the West Hollywood case, involving a young woman in a luxury SUV who made a left hook, seriously injuring a young male cyclist. Charges were filed in early February by the L.A. D.A.’s office:

1) one felony count of hit and run causing serious or permanent injury – CVC 20001(a)

2) one infraction count of a minor driving with a BAC over .01 – CVC 23136(a)

Mahdavi entered a not guilty plea to both counts on Feb. 25. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for March 22 at the Beverly Hills Courthouse.

In a case that largely went under the radar, an Orange County driver was convicted on the same day the Christopher Thompson verdict was announced in the Mandeville Canyon case. He was accused of killing a 14-year old Huntington Beach boy riding to school in the bike lane on the opposite side of the street, while texting and under the influence of prescription drugs.

Jeffrey Francis Woods (Case #08ZF0040) – victim – Danny Oates

Woods was found guilty by a jury after a 16 day trial.  He was sentenced to 6 years state prison, 3 years license revocation and ordered to pay restitution for:

1) one felony count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated – PC 191.5(a)

However, according to the OC Superior Court website, the status of this case is listed as “APPEAL.”  Woods is still in custody.

He also includes an update on one strange, non-bike-related case involving a 71-year old former state legislator who ran over a USC parking attendant after being denied entry last December because he didn’t have the proper parking permit.

Walter Karabian (Case #0EA00275)

Apparently Karabian was trying to enter a lot for which he didn’t have the appropriate parking permit, and ended up hitting the parking attendant with his car, causing some minor injuries. Sheriff responded and arrested him; he was later released on $30,000 bail.

The D.A. rejected it for felony charges and gave it to the City Attorney, but they recused themselves due to a conflict of interest, and handed it back to the D.A. for misdemeanor consideration. Turns out Karabian has a son who is currently a deputy C.A. at the Metro Traffic Court on Hill St.

A single misdemeanor count for assault with a deadly weapon – PC 245(A)(1) was filed in early January at the East Los Angeles Courthouse by the D.A’s office. A motion was filed last month to have the case removed from the initial judge, Elaine Lu, because she might be prejudiced in this case, and the case is now before Judge Henry Barela in Dept. 7. On Feb. 18, Karabian’s defense attorney entered his plea of not guilty on his behalf; this is allowed in most misdemeanor cases. There is a pretrial hearing set for March 24, 2010.

The elder Karabian is a former deputy district attorney, former State Assemblyman and current named partner of a law firm in Monterey Park.

He concludes with the current status of two recently convicted prisoners — the driver accused of the intoxicated hit-and-run death of a Mexican immigrant in Echo Park last April, and the emergency room physician sentenced to 5 years in prison for intentionally injuring two cyclists in Mandeville Canyon on July 4th, 2008.

Alejandro Hidalgo (Case #BA35559301) – Victim – Jesus Castillo

According to the Sheriff’s Inmate locator page, Hidalgo was transferred to Wasco State Prison on January 26, 2010 after pleading guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence – PC 191.5(b).  The two year state prison sentence he received in his plea bargain is the middle-term sentence available for this charge.

Christopher T. Thompson (Case #SA06829701) – Victim – Ron Peterson and Christian Stoehr

According to the Sheriff’s Inmate locator page, Thompson was also transferred to Wasco State Prison on January 28, 2010.

Thanks to DJ Wheels for his amazing efforts to keep us up to date on all these cases — it’s a lot of work, and very much appreciated.

On a personal note, some people have questioned why I focus on negative aspects of cycling like the cases noted above. The answer is simple. I feel there’s a need to shine a spotlight on crimes like these in order to do whatever we can to ensure that they don’t happen again. And I feel we have an obligation to the victims to make sure that justice is done and that they are not forgotten.

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Streetsblog plans a fundraiser next month honoring winners of this year’s Streetsie awards. A Sacramento cyclist is killed when he “somehow” gets caught beneath a bus; yeah, like that sort of thing just happens. Three thousand riders take part in a soggy Colnago Gran Fondo in San Diego. A great manifesto on feminist cycling. Trek thinks you might confuse their bikes with their with an unrelated winery. Denver prepares to kick off what they call the nation’s first city-wide bike share program, and uses stimulus funds to close gaps in their bikeway system — and they place sharrows on medium to high volume streets, rather than quiet streets where they aren’t needed. Can private businesses cut the locks of bikes parked in the public right-of-way? 1936 sounds a lot like 2010, at least as far as bikes are concerned. Eight months of riding culminates with a final leg from Guadalajara to Playa Real; the photos alone are worth a look. Cyclelicious covers the prologue of this year’s Paris – Nice race, Boom gets off to a good start while Team Sky’s Henderson takes the first stage. The Scheck brothers may leave Saxo Bank to form their own team — and take Cancellara with them. After being denied a chance to take it, a 10-year old girl with cerebral Palsy passes Britain’s Bikeability test. The first of new bike superhighways sponsored by London’s mayor don’t exactly get glowing reviews. Did Germany send the Hitler Youth as to pre-war Britain as “spyclists?” Evidently, British cycling engineers don’t ride bike routes before they select them, either. Looking at the Japanese love affair with electric bikes. A new Dutch system paces cyclists at the correct speed to avoid red lights.

Finally, L.A’s Downtown News reports on the efforts of bike messengers to fight back again bike thieves, including the infamous — and now confirmed — report of stripping two teenaged alleged rim thieves to their underwear and donating their clothes to a homeless shelter.

Bike cases fill the dockets — Dr. Thompson was just the beginning

As Bob Mionske noted in the Times last week, the Thompson case does not represent a sea change for cyclists.

It was just one case, with unique circumstances. Like driver who admitted trying to “teach them a lesson.” A car with a unique, memorable license plate. And at least three other cyclists who could testify to similar incidents involving the same car, and the same driver.

Not to mention a police department that took it seriously — which isn’t always the case.

Unfortunately, it’s also just the tip of the iceberg.

As cyclist/attorney DJ Wheels pointed out recently, while Thompson got 5 years for intentionally injuring two cyclists, Alejandro Hidalgo got just two years for getting drunk and killing Jesus Castillo, then fleeing the scene.

Call me crazy, but on my balance sheet, Intoxication + Death + Running Away outweighs Intent + Injury. Even if it wasn’t the first time.

And that’s just the first of at least 10 other cases involving cyclists working their way through the investigative and legal process in the L.A. area.

Like Teri Hawkins, for instance.

She reportedly ran a stop sign before striking a cyclist, knocking him 30 feet through the air. The 40-year old Simi Valley resident turned herself in to the police 4 days after the hit-and-run collision that resulted in “major injuries” to the 26-year old rider, who has not been publicly identified.

After pleading no contest to hit-and-run with injury (CVC 2001a), her request for probation was denied and she was sentenced to 16 months in state prison last week, with credit for 76 days time served. Hawkins was also ordered to pay restitution, with a hearing scheduled for Tuesday in the San Fernando courthouse.

Wheels notes that turning herself in may have been a mitigating factor in the relatively low sentence — although it should be noted that her conscience seemed to kick in after her car had been located and impounded by the police.

Wheels also provided an update on the status of some of the other cases:

The preliminary setting for Robert Sam Sanchez — the driver accused of killing Rod Armas and seriously injuring his son Christian on PCH in Malibu last June — has been continued for the third time.

Sanchez was arrested shortly after fleeing the collision, which took place near the completion of the L.A. Wheelmen’s 200-mile Grand Tour Double Century. The preliminary setting, held prior to a preliminary hearing, is now scheduled for February 11 in the Malibu Courthouse. Sanchez has pled not guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (Section 191.5a of the California Penal Code) as well as driving under the influence (CVC 23152a) and failure to stop after an accident involving an injury (CVC 20001a).

Rod’s sister-in-law reported last summer that Christian was doing well physically, though making it clear that the family was struggling with his loss. And an acquaintance of Sanchez noted that he was not a bad person, despite a drunken decision to get behind the wheel that has forever changed two families.

Mark Antonio Valencia was high on drugs and alcohol when he mowed down five cyclists in Santa Clarita on the morning of July 11, killing Joseph Novotny and seriously injuring two others. Valencia, who was driving his sister’s car without a license after two prior DUI convictions — as well as multiple arrests for drug and alcohol possession, selling tear gas and obstructing officers — had already been reported to authorities before the collision; unfortunately, sheriff’s deputies couldn’t catch up to him in time.

DJ Wheels reports that Valencia is scheduled for a pretrial hearing in the San Fernando courthouse on January 22. Valencia is still being held on $1.3 million bail, charged with 13 criminal counts including murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, hit-and-run and several DUI charges.

In a very personal case, the driver who threatened a group of cyclists, resulting in injuries to Wheel’s new wife, will be arraigned on January 26.

On January 28, the driver accused of injuring local cycling advocate Roadblock in a hit-and-run collision is scheduled for a pretrial hearing.

A February 3 hearing has been scheduled for four men charged with attempting to rob a female cyclist by striking her in the face with a baseball bat.

Meanwhile, the investigation continues into the hit-and-run that sent community leader Ed Magos to the hospital on January 6. Despite driving off and leaving another human splayed on the pavement unable to move, the driver was not arrested when she turned herself in later; no charges have yet been filed.

No word yet on the status of Patricia Ann Izquieta, who was arrested for the hit-and-run death of Donald Murphy in Irvine last month. Or whether any charges will be filed in the death of Gustavo Ramirez in Long Beach on the 5th. It doesn’t sound likely, though, since initial police statements seemed to blame Ramirez; the Press-Telegram reports on last weekend’s ride in his honor.

And there’s still no word of an arrest in the hit-and-run death of Robert Painter, the cyclist killed while riding in a crosswalk in North Hollywood last month. Fittingly, the driver is likely to face murder charges once an arrest is made.

……..

Controversy over plans for a bikeway near JPL. Travelin’ Local maps L.A. by bike. A North County San Diego paper questions whether current criminal penalties are strong enough when cars hit bikes; a drunk cyclist unwittingly volunteers as a test case. Another rider is killed in the nation’s most deadly state for cycling; Transit Miami examines why it happened there. Austin’s planned bike boulevard hits some bumps. Anchorage holds a very frosty bike race. A Colorado town revives the legendary Morgul Bismark stage from the Red Zinger/Coors Classics. German pro Matthias Kessler suffered a serious brain injury after a cat runs in front of his bike. London residents question traffic calming and bikeway plans. Lance has won seven tours; World Champ Cadel Evans says he’s only lost five.  Bikeways to the sailing venues for the 2012 Olympics could use some improvement. Scotland awards over $1.2 million to promote cycling in Edinburgh. The UK promotes child cycling through the new Bike Club. An Indian Nobel Laureate and confirmed cyclist says cars set a bad example, while a Danish politician says bikes are the obvious solution. Finally, the Trickster did indeed say it first — Michael Vink is a rising rider to keep an eye on.

And a woman walks into a bike shop

The definition of tragedy

I remember reading a short story years ago, back when I was still in grade school.

I couldn’t tell you now who wrote it, or even what it was called, just that it was about a detective investigating the death of someone killed in a hit-and-run collision.

But it must have made quite an impact.

The reason it stuck with me all these years was that he hated cases like that, because he knew he wouldn’t find a homicidal monster at the end of the case. Just a scared person who ruined two lives in a single irrevocable act.

I was thinking about that today because, as promised, Danny attended this morning’s arraignment of Robert Sam Sanchez, the driver charged with killing Rod Armas and critically injuring his 14-year old son in a drunken hit-and-run collision during the June Grand Tour Double Century.

Here’s what he had to report:

Sanchez pled NOT GUILTY to all charges and denied all affirmative allegations in the criminal complaint.

Criminal Counts:

1)Cal. Penal Code 191.5(a) – gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated

2)Cal. Vehicle Code 23152(a) – driving under the influence

3)Cal. Vehicle Code 20001(a) – failure to stop after an accident involving an injury

Preliminary Hearing is set for Tuesday, Sept. 15 @ 8:30 am in Dept. 1 at the Malibu Courthouse.

A group of 10 people, mostly family I believe, were there in support of Robert S. Sanchez.  They all seemed concerned and a little new to the criminal process and courthouse setting.  Sanchez appeared calm and clean cut, wearing a dark suit.  Nothing about his appearance or his family really compelled me to form a negative opinion about him.  He did not speak at all during the arraignment.  His attorney James Armstrong spoke on his behalf.  At the end of the hearing as Sanchez and his attorney were walking out,  Judge Lawrence Mira asked the district attorney what the blood alcohol level was.  The D.A. responded, “.05, but that was about 5 hours later.”

I was a little troubled by that.  Why the hell would it take the Sheriff 5 hours to get a breathalyzer test from this guy?  It’s not like this happened in downtown L.A. or Hollywood where there is a line of drunks backed up at the station waiting to get their breath tested.

I have to admit, I share Danny’s concern about the long-delayed blood alcohol test. Maybe someone out there can explain why there was such a long delay in administering the test to Sanchez, and what effect, if any, that could have on his trial.

In addition, Danny later went down to the criminal courthouse in Downtown L.A., to gather information about the trial of Alejandro Hidalgo, the driver charged with killing Jesus Castillo in another DUI collision, this time in Echo Park:

Later in the afternoon, I took a trip to the Downtown L.A criminal courthouse.  The clerk’s office filled me on the details in this case.

Arraignment took place May 15, 2009.  The clerk seemed a little confused about the plea, but she “thinks” it was a NOT GUILTY plea.

Charges:

1)Cal. Penal Code 191.5(a) – gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated

2)Cal. Vehicle Code 23152(a) – driving under the influence

3)Cal. Vehicle Code 23152(b) – driving under the influence with a B.A.C. over .08

Preliminary Hearing is set for Friday, August 28, 2009 @ 8:30 am in Dept. 35 at the Downtown L.A. criminal courthouse (Clara Foltz Criminal Justice Center).

This one also made me wonder. Why the hell wasn’t a hit and run charge added?  I thought there was a witness that saw it all happen and followed the car to get the plates.

Similar cases at first glance, but we’ll see if there are similar results.

Once again, a good question. Why wasn’t Hidalgo charged with leaving the scene? And was that 5-hour delay the reason Sanchez wasn’t charged with having a BAC over .08, as Hidalgo was?

Two cyclists are dead, another seriously injured. Their families face a lifetime of loss, a hole in their lives that can never be filled.

Meanwhile, two drivers face years of imprisonment, their lives forever ruined.

Because they each got behind the wheel after drinking.

Took the life of a total stranger.

And ran.

……..

Will introduces the world to his sort-of-new bike, 8-Ball. Russ and Laura offer striking photos from their journey through the Northwest, and relate a visit from a formerly cycling Father Time. Bicycle Fixation offers a solution to the problem of what to do with your helmet when you lock up your bike. The Tucson Bike Lawyer goes head over handlebars on a Colorado mountain bike run, but fares better than some of the others. A Florida cyclist is killed in a hit-and-run, after losing his own license for a DUI. A Wisconsin legislator injured a cyclist after running a red light. Finally, while we struggle to get — and keep — a patch of paint on Reseda, Copenhagen gets bicycle superhighways.

An alleged killer to be arraigned; peak hour lanes to be debated again in Northridge

A couple of quick notes.

A reader named Danny sends word that Robert Sam Sanchez, the driver arrested in connection with the hit-and-run death of cyclist Rod Armas, will be arraigned this Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

As you may recall, Rod and his 14-year old son Christian were nearing the finish of the L.A. Wheelmen’s Grand Tour Double Century when they were struck by an alleged drunk driver on PCH near Malibu early in the morning of Sunday, June 28; Rod was killed and Christian was seriously injured. The driver ditched his truck about a mile away and was arrested by sheriff’s deputies a short time later.

According to Danny, the arraignment will take place in Dept. 1 of the Malibu Courthouse this Thursday, August 20, at 8:30 am. He says he plans to be there and will fill us in on any details. If anyone else plans to attend, feel free to forward observations you may have (you can find my email on the About BikingInLA page.

My prayers go out to the entire Armas family; if anyone can provide an update on Christian’s condition, let me know. And you can still make a donation to the Armas family online through the Talbert Family Foundation.

On another note, on the heels of last week’s successful turnout at the Northridge West Neighborhood Council meeting to fight the “rumored” peak hour lane proposal, BAC Chairperson Glenn Bailey sends word that the subject will be taken up by their Northridge East counterparts on Wednesday:

Fellow bicyclists and other interested persons:

This morning I received the attached agenda for the Northridge EAST Neighborhood Council meeting for 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 19 which includes Item 7d:

7. Old Business

d. Proposed Peak Hour Lane Reseda Boulevard

[Possible Action]

The meeting will be held at CSUN’s University Club located northwest of Nordhoff and Zelzah, enter from Dearborn St.  Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and refreshments are usually served.  (NOTE:  When I called the University Club (818-677-2076) inquiring about bicycle parking I was told to “Tie it to a tree.”  <sigh>  I requested that they get a bicycle rack by tomorrow night’s meeting.)

FYI, I made a presentation at the Northridge East NC’s July meeting as to the information I had obtained as of then and I was well received.  This morning I emailed the NENC board recommending that they vote to OPPOSE the Reseda Boulevard peak hour lanes and SUPPORT the installation of the long planned bicycle lanes between Nordhoff and Rinaldi streets.  (The bicycle lanes would assure that no peak hour lanes would be installed in the future, or at least that it would be a much more difficult process.)

I am hoping you might be able to attend this meeting and inform others.  As you can see, this time there is no motion listed on the agenda so it could go either way.

I will not personally be able to attend this meeting as I have a previous commitment out of town.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email and/or telephone me,

Thank you for your interest and assistance.

Cordially,

Glenn Bailey, Chairperson

Bicycle Advisory Committee

City of Los Angeles

If you live or ride in the area, I urge you attend the meeting if you can. LADOT may claim they don’t have any current plans for peak hour lanes on Reseda, but that could change as soon as we turn our backs. Let’s keep up the fight until we get those long-promised bike lanes painted on the street. (And thanks to Joe Linton for providing a link to the NENC agenda).

………

Evidently, Stephen Colbert reads Streetsblog LA, at least when it’s about him. Mikey Wally announces a party at Orange 20 to celebrate his return, along with two other SoCal cyclists, from a NY to LA cross-country ride.  C.I.C.L.E. and the Santa Monica Museum of Art join together for an art ride this weekend, promising a slow pace and observance of all traffic laws. The Springfield Cyclist can now legally run red lights. A Colorado jerk motorist says bikes have as much right on the road as sheep, but at least sheep have enough sense to get out of the way. Athletes from the University of Colorado come to the aid of a fallen cyclist. Tucson unveils the Bike Church, a memorial to fallen cyclists made entirely of bike parts. Graphic evidence that cycling casualties go down as ridership goes up. A Toronto cyclist returns to find her bike ticketed for excessive awesomeness. Ireland agrees to pay for bike parking facilities; one of their top amateur cyclists is killed in a single vehicle car crash. Finally, in what may be the most vile incident in recent memory, a cyclist in Texas is killed by a hit-and-run driver who pulls the victim inside his back seat and drives home, leaving him in the car to die.

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