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.