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Plea deal possible for hit and run

Family wants suspect held responsible, day in court

POSTED November 4, 2011 8:39 p.m.

The case against a Patterson woman accused of hitting a cyclist and leaving him to die on a Turlock road, will likely be settled with a plea deal.

The victim’s father, Jim O’Connor, said the family has been told a plea bargain is in the works for 22-year-old Vanessa Carrillo that will likely include a jail sentence of one year.

“I fear that she will spend a lot less time in jail, if at all,” O’Connor said.

Carrillo is facing criminal charges of felony hit and run resulting in injury and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence for the September 2010 death of 27-year-old Patrick O’Connor.

Carrillo’s last court appearance was Tuesday, at which time a judge ordered a pre-probationary report be compiled.

O’Connor said family and friends have been asked to submit letters detailing how the death of Patrick has affected their lives.

“Where do you even begin to explain that kind of loss?” O’Connor asked.

The likelihood that the case will not go to trail is just another point of frustration for the O’Connor family, who believe the case has been mishandled from the very beginning.

“The investigation and the prosecution of this case have made a mockery of the entire system,” O’Connor said. “We definitely thought the criminal justice system would do a better job.”

According to the California Highway Patrol, Carrillo was traveling on Fulkerth Road at an approximate speed of 55 mph when her Toyota Corolla struck Patrick O’Connor from behind. The impact sent him tumbling over the front end of the car and onto the pavement. The injuries he sustained proved fatal and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The CHP report states Carrillo made no effort to stop prior to the collision. She did stop about 150 feet away from the point of impact before driving away.

A witness alerted to the crash from the sound, was able to get a partial license plate number and told the CHP investigators he could see damage to the vehicle and the driver was talking on a cell phone as she passed.

Carrillo drove to her mother’s house in Patterson and about an hour after the collision she called 911 and told them she had hit something and that she believed it was a dog.

When CHP officers arrived at the Patterson home they saw the Toyota Corolla and noticed that it had significant front end damage, including a missing portion of the front bumper, a deep indent in the hood and a broken windshield. Upon a closer look they could see blood and hair on the roof on the car, according to the report.

In her initial statement to the CHP, Carrillo said she was traveling on Fulkerth and saw a black figure but that the sun was in her eyes and then she felt and heard the impact.

She said she stopped about 150 feet away and looking through her rear view mirror, she saw a body in the road. Carrillo told the CHP she called her mother and told her that she had just hit something. Her mother advised her to stay there, but Carrillo said she panicked and fled the scene.

Upon further questioning, Carrillo changed a portion of her story, saying she had returned to the scene and saw the emergency vehicle and then went home and called 911 and told the story about hitting a dog.

It was almost four months after the hit and run that an arrest warrant was issued for Carrillo. She was released on her own recognizance, but was later booked into jail after receiving another traffic violation. She was released on bail.

Carrillo has racked up five traffic violations, including three for speeding, one of which was issued after the fatal collision.

“When is she going to be held accountable?” O’Connor asked. “She hit and killed someone, lied about it completely and now is going to get away with it.”

Carrillo’s next court date is Dec. 15 in Stanislaus County Superior Court.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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