West pleads guilty to reduced charge in connection to 2011 fatal crash

Ryan West looks up at his attorney during a change of plea hearing in Juneau Superior Court on Monday. Matt Miller/KTOO News

Ryan West could spend four- to seven-years in prison for the death of a friend over a year-and-a-half ago.

He entered a plea on Monday to a reduced charge of criminally negligent homicide.

“How do you plead to this charge?” asked Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez.

“Guilty, your honor.”

West had been charged with second degree murder in connection with the June 2011 death of Gabriel Carte.

Trial had been set to start in the case on Monday.

Police believe alcohol was a factor in the accident at Mile 35 of the Glacier Highway.

West is now 27 years old. Carte was 19 when he died.

Criminally negligent homicide is a class B felony, while second degree murder is an unclassified felony with a sentence of up to 99 years.

West will be subject to open sentencing which means that the judge will have discretion to go as low as two-years and as high as the maximum of ten-years. He is expected to be fined as much as $100,000

As part of an agreement with prosecutors for violating his probation, West will also serve an additional two -years for each of two previously suspended sentences from stemming from incidents in 2009. Those previously suspended sentences will be served partially concurrent with a composite term of 36 months.

In responding to an inquiry by Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez, West said he understood the finer details of the plea agreement and the rights that he was giving up.

West’s probation from those earlier cases was effectively revoked when he made his plea to criminally negligent homicide.

As much as three hours has been set aside for West’s sentencing hearing on April 15th.

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