Woman guilty in bicyclist’s death
A woman accused of driving under the influence, falling asleep and killing a cyclist along U.S. Highway 50 in September 2013 has reached a plea deal in her case.
Tonie Rosales, 30, appeared in court Thursday morning and entered a guilty plea to a charge of vehicular homicide. Other charges in related cases, including drug possession and violating bond conditions by operating a motor vehicle, will not be pursued by prosecutors under terms of the deal.
Rosales faces a possible 4 to 12 years in the Department of Corrections at a sentencing set for July 25. District Court Judge Valerie Robison could modify the sentence range to from 2 to 24 years if she believes mitigating circumstances exist, she said from the bench Thursday.
Rosales is likely to remain in jail until her sentencing date, as Robison declined to modify the terms of her cash-only bond Thursday.
In arguing for bond modification that would presumably allow Rosales out of jail until sentencing, Public Defender Matt Mulch cited Rosales’ signing up for drug treatment while previously out on bond. He also said that Rosales has lined up a job at a restaurant in Montrose should she be freed from jail.
Mulch also delved into Rosales’ troubled past as reasons for her recent issues with the criminal justice system. He said Rosales was sexually abused as a child — something “she’s never gotten treatment for or come to terms with.” He also said Rosales is in the middle of a contentious divorce, is “afraid of the dark,” and often goes “a week straight without sleep.”
“This is a broken woman trying to put the pieces back together,” Mulch said.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Hand reminded Judge Robison that Rosales was driving to a hearing about a previous DUI case when the fatal accident with Eunjey Cho happened, and that Rosales “could barely even stay awake within minutes after the accident.”
Other motorists reported her weaving, and even getting out of her vehicle to “try to catch her breath” before the accident.
As for employment, Hand noted that Rosales remained unemployed throughout her time out on bond. Hand also reminded Robison that a phone call intercepted at the jail reportedly included Rosales saying that she was interested in signing up for drug treatment just to avoid jail time.
Members of the family of Cho — the 25-year-old cyclist killed by Rosales while on a nationwide ride from Seattle to his Princeton, New Jersey, home — are expected to attend her sentencing in July.