Chesterton Tribune


Portage man pleads in fatal hit and run, facing maximum of eight years in prison

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A Portage man is facing up to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to a hit-and-run accident which left a Valparaiso man dead in April, the Porter County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said.

Reinaldo Figueroa III, 20, with a listed address of 2561 Hamstrom Road, has agreed to plead guilty to one of two counts filed against him: leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, a Class C felony punishable by a term of two to eight years, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Bennett told the Chesterton Tribune.

Under the plea-and-argue agreement, the second charge filed against Figueroa would be dismissed: reckless homicide, also a Class C felony.

In fact, Bennett said, had the case gone to trial the state legally would have been able to secure a conviction on only one of the two counts: either leaving the scene or reckless homicide but not both, since essentially those counts are opposite sides of the same coin.

“Think of it as a linear progression,” Bennett explained. “Our theory of the case is that (Figueroa) turned off Willowcreek Road onto C.R. 700N and was going like a bat out of hell, 80 or 90 miles per hour. He hits Mr. Ivey and kills him. Then he leaves the scene. We filed the two counts to give the jury an option. But we couldn’t convict on both because each count is really part and parcel of the same offense and that would be double jeopardy.”

According to the Porter County Sheriff’s Police, at 8:20 p.m. April 2 a female driver advised that she had run over a male subject lying in the roadway on C.R. 700N. Franklin Ivey, 22, was pronounced dead at the scene and investigators subsequently determined that Ivey had been eastbound on C.R. 700N on his moped when he was rear-ended by a blue Subaru passenger vehicle, police said. The driver of the Subaru then fled the scene, leaving Ivey in the roadway, where he was later hit again by the other motorist.

Investigators found the damaged blue Subaru a day later, April 3, in South Haven, traced it to Figueroa, and took him into custody on charges of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and reckless homicide.



Posted 11/21/2012