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.