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Old 06-15-11, 07:06 PM   #1
johnny99
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Guilty plea in 2008 hit-and-run death of Martinez cyclist

http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_18281407

Guilty plea in 2008 hit-and-run death of Martinez cyclist

By Robert Salonga
Contra Costa Times

Posted: 06/15/2011 04:03:28 PM PDT
Updated: 06/15/2011 05:04:49 PM PDT

MARTINEZ -- An El Sobrante man pleaded guilty
Wednesday in the 2008 hit-and-run death of an
electrician and Martinez cyclist, capping a bizarre
tale in which the defendant eluded suspicion for
half a year and hid the culprit vehicle.

Harold Theodore Brown, 55, will be sentenced Aug.
18 to two years in prison, though he will serve just
one year in custody, according to a plea agreement
approved by Judge Brian Haynes.

"Guilty, your honor," Brown said in court when
prompted by Haynes.

The answer was standard, but the words were
cathartic for the family of 49-year-old Mark
Pendleton, an electrician and avid cyclist who was
struck by a SUV on Nov. 24, 2008, while riding on
McEwen Road.

"It was beautiful to hear 'guilty' from his mouth,"
said Paul Pendleton, the victim's son.

When Pendleton was found dead on the side of
McEwen Road north of Highway 4, the only trace of
the vehicle that struck him was the broken shards of
a headlight. For months, family, friends and
Pendleton's cycling colleagues banded together to
keep his story alive, canvassing the region with
fliers and establishing a bike memorial at the crash
site.

In June 2009, Brown was arrested after an aborted
phone call to the California Highway Patrol, which
oversaw the case, led investigators to the would-be
tipster in American Canyon who implicated the
defendant. Authorities would later find the SUV that
struck Pendleton hidden in a relative's garage.

The case dragged on for two more years, with an initial plea
deal in July 2010 being withdrawn by prosecutors
after vocal protests from Pendleton's family, who
objected to the deal not including any jail time for
Brown.

Michael Cardoza, the attorney Brown hired before he
was identified as a suspect, said his client's main
transgression was to leave the scene of the
collision.

"He pleaded guilty to what he did. If he didn't leave,
there wouldn't be a crime here," Cardoza said. "The
victim was in dark clothing, going like a bullet down
a hill. It wasn't all my client's fault."

Pendleton's family was not completely satisfied,
though, because after attending countless court
hearings, they will have to wait until mid-August for
Brown's sentencing. Denise Pendleton, the victim's
widow, pleaded in a letter to convince Judge Haynes
to abide by a previously set June 27 sentencing
date, arguing that Brown has had since 2008 to get
his affairs in order.

Haynes was sympathetic but said he ultimately had
to abide by the date agreed upon between the
attorneys.

"We think about it so often," Denise Pendleton said.
"We just want to finish it."

Robert Salonga covers public safety. Contact him
at 925-943-8013. Follow him at Twitter.
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Old 06-15-11, 07:15 PM   #2
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"He pleaded guilty to what he did. If he didn't leave,
there wouldn't be a crime here," Cardoza said. "The
victim was in dark clothing, going like a bullet down
a hill. It wasn't all my client's fault."

Why did he leave the scene then? Why did he hide his truck?
If the victim was going like a bullet there was no doubt he would be seriously hurt. In some countries this is considered non assistance to a person in grave danger and a serious crime by itself.
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Old 06-15-11, 09:35 PM   #3
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They should throw the relative in to prison too for hiding the vehicle.
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Old 06-16-11, 12:00 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by UmneyDurak View Post
They should throw the relative in to prison too for hiding the vehicle.
+1
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Old 06-16-11, 03:44 PM   #5
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This all makes me so angry I don't know where to start. Oh, wait. Yes I do. With the driver WHO LEFT THE SCENE AND HID. How is that not a major felony? How is that not a crime against humanity? How is he not assumed to be an impaired driver, just because he had time to sober up?

And what about the DA? I'm angry with those folks, whoever didn't puesue this with any aggression at all. What's wrong with them? How are they serving me, a road user, and tax payer?

And this: "He pleaded guilty to what he did. If he didn't leave,
there wouldn't be a crime here," Cardoza said. "The
victim was in dark clothing, going like a bullet down
a hill. It wasn't all my client's fault."

So, your client crossed over to hit him? That's legal? And I'd like the "dark clothing, going like a bullet down a hill." confirmed, though why does that even matter?Arrrgggggg. This man should never drive again, and he, the judge, the DA, and his lawyer, and all their families should be made to ride bicycles everywhere for the next 5 years.
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Old 06-16-11, 07:59 PM   #6
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Michael Cardoza, the attorney Brown hired before he
was identified as a suspect, said his client's main
transgression was to leave the scene of the
collision.

Actually, it's what he did afterwards that made it worse

From the Martinez Gazette dated May 20, 2010 (http://www.martinezgazette.com/news/...ace-sentencing)

“Brown confessed to this friend in the week following Mark’s death that he had killed a man. At first she wanted the reward, but after she was put on the stand she decided she didn’t want to take it,” said Pendleton. “She admitted on the stand that Brown wanted her to help him cover up the crime, but then she got her own lawyer.”


Also, I did remember seeing an article in the Contra Costa Times (but can't find the article online now) that stated that not only did Brown not come forward, he actually fixed the truck himself in an effort to further cover up what he did.

It's too bad he only got one year in jail.
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Old 06-16-11, 08:15 PM   #7
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2 years for killing somebody and trying to cover it up? Jeez.
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Old 06-16-11, 08:23 PM   #8
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I guess a guilty plea opens up the prospect for additional civil tries involving some financial implications. Unless the guy has no assets.
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Old 06-16-11, 09:42 PM   #9
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Very sad. I suppose Cardoza is just doing his job, but really, trying to shift blame after his client has admitted what he did is sh*tty.

The only silver lining I can see is that this actually made it to trial and a conviction after all these twists and turns - although the penalty leaves a bitter taste, the fact that he was brought in at all, after 2yrs, gives me some sense of satisfaction.
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Old 06-17-11, 02:59 PM   #10
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"He pleaded guilty to what he did. If he didn't leave,
there wouldn't be a crime here,"

He did leave the scene then took measures to hide the vehicle way before he pleaded guilty. Lame.
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Old 06-19-11, 07:08 PM   #11
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There is no excuse to leave the site of an accident particularly when you are involved! (only a coward would do that) So incredibly sad.

The road (McEwen) is narrow with relatively tight curves, late in the afternoon--early evening the day before Thanksgiving, if I remember correctly the accident took place.

In winter for sure a blinking front and rear light can only help, bright clothe as well. I know it is not "cool" but no matter what: safety is first, even on our gorgeous, fast and super light weight bikes.

The driver may have been under the influence driving way too fast on such a narrow road and on and on--but there is absolutely no excuse to leave the site of an accident.

I am so sorry for the family and friend of their loss.

Last edited by VNA; 06-19-11 at 07:11 PM.
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Old 08-19-11, 10:33 AM   #12
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Update: Two-year sentence, probably serve one.


http://www.contracostatimes.com/top-stories/ci_18711161
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