Delayed sentencing for driver from fatal accident

Monday’s sentencing of Ryan West did not go as planned.

The judge in the case has ordered attorneys to submit additional briefing on the underlying elements of a potential sentence for West. They’re due by Friday morning. Actual sentencing has been put off indefinitely.

West already changed his plea to a reduced charge of criminally negligent homicide for the death of his friend Gabriel Carte out Glacier Highway nearly two years ago. He was earlier charged with second degree murder.

The dilemma is how earlier convictions which resulted in a suspended imposition of sentence should factor into a handing down a new sentence for the accident that killed Carte.

Superior Court Louis Menendez referred to an ambiguity in statute about the interpretation of a presumptive sentencing range in regards to a single conviction or a conviction of multiple charges in a single case.

The sentence could be six- to ten-years or four- to seven-years. It doesn’t impact the maximum sentence he could receive because of the aggravator. He could receive the ten-year sentence no matter what. However, my concern is the fact that we have a statute in effect that is subject to some questionable meaning. And, that is, whether or not Mr. West’s prior convictions before Judge (Patricia) Collins back in 2009, when he was convicted of failure to render aid and theft, are separate offenses for the purposes of presumptive sentencing. That would mean his exposure would be increased to six- to ten-years as opposed to four- to seven-years.”

Attorneys for the prosecution and defense have until Friday morning to write up briefs. A status hearing is planned for Friday afternoon in which Judge Menendez is likely to issue a decision.

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