Update: Guilty plea in case of fallen OC cyclist Joseph Robinson

A source calling from the courthouse in Orange County has just reported that the driver who killed 21-year old Jax Bicycle Center employee Joseph Robinson has pleaded guilty to hit-and-run and drug charges, and will face significant jail time.

Sommer Niclole Gonzales, just 18 at the time of the collision, was sentenced to spend the next 11 years of her life behind bars after she admitted responsibility and waived her right to appeal.

Robinson was taking the long way to work on a sunny February morning last year when he was run down from behind while riding in the bike lane on Santiago Canyon Road.

He was hit with enough force to knock him and his bike completely off the roadway; his body was only discovered because an off-duty fire captain spotted a car with a shattered windshield speeding in the opposite direction, then saw a single shoe lying on the side of the roadway.

Gonzales was arrested in a parking lot a short time later as a friend helped her transfer her belongings into another car, in an apparent attempt to cover up her responsibility for the crime. She was found in possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia at the time of her arrest.

No word on why her friend wasn’t charged for assisting in the attempted coverup.

The victim’s family was reportedly in tears following the sentencing.

According to the source, the judge’s final words to her were “What a tragedy. Just because you wanted to do meth.”

Update: I corrected the above quote from the judge, which was off slightly due to a bad phone connection.

Gonzales will get credit for 888 days served, reducing her sentence by nearly two-and-a-half years; she’ll also serve three years parole upon her release.

Update 2: According to a press release from the Orange County DA’s office, Gonzales was found guilty of:

  • Felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated
  • Felony hit and run with death
  • Misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance
  • Misdemeanor use and under the influence of a controlled substance
  • Misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance paraphernalia
  • Along with a sentencing enhancement allegation for fleeing the scene of a vehicular manslaughter

Robinson’s family offered emotional impact statements, including this video from his mother showing him riding in happier days.

Then there’s this moving quote from his sister.

“My heart literally hurts when I think about my brother, I can’t think about him without crying. My drive to work takes me right past the accident site where his ghost bike is still hanging. Every morning and night as I pass that spot, I tell Joey aloud that I love him and cry.”

If you’ve ever wondered what harm driving under the influence can cause, that pretty much sums it up.

Thanks to Jeffrey Fylling for the press release.

Update 3: My News LA adds more details, including quotes from Robinson’s family members and his girlfriend. 

The story also quotes Gonzales’ attorney explaining that she had first tried marijuana at age 12, and quickly moved on to meth, which she had been her drug of choice ever since.

According to the attorney, she knew she had hit something, and stopped to see what it was, but continued on when she didn’t see Robinson or his bike. 


  1. This is a huge change, prosecutors and judges are starting to treat cyclists like actual human beings rather than roadside vermin. When I started working as a news amalgamator back in 2006 drivers that killed cyclists hardly ever got charged, when charged the hardly ever were found guilty, and when guilty were usually given probation or “community service”. This time someone got some serious prison time.

  2. cole says:

    We want to know the name of the 24 year old accomplice. He needs to be exposed. This is a 24 year old man that is willing to cover up murders. Society needs to know who he is. If you know the name, and can expedite our search for pictures, etc of him, please contact info at newsball.com

    • bikinginla says:

      While I understand the desire to hold him accountable, I make it a practice not to name individuals who have not been indicted, and even then, only when appropriate.

      I am reminded of the many threatening phone calls received by Dr. Christopher Thompson in the wake of the infamous Mandeville Canyon incident. Except they were threatening the wrong Doctor Thompson.

      Even if they find the right person, there is no benefit to anyone in encouraging vigilantism. Better to contact the DA’s office and demand justice.

      • cole says:

        So do you know his name? Please privately text it 858 333 8888. Your “practice” is the same as mainstream news and you should consider being different and don’t have a filter in the name of political correctness. 

        I implore you to please reveal his name, if not publishing it, at least letting me know so our news outlet can expose him. We have feelers in with the DA’s office, but hope for your cooperation

        • bikinginla says:

          I don’t know his name. And my policy has nothing to do with political correctness, it is to prevent well-meaning vigilantism, which can often effect uninvolved individuals and is always harmful. I’ve seen it happen far too many times.

          I repeat. If you want to see him prosecuted, put pressure on the DA’s office.

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