Vancouver man sentenced to seven years for 2010 traffic death

He pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter in passenger’s death

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: November 23, 2011, 6:14 PM

 

A Vancouver man was sentenced Wednesday to more than seven years in prison for driving recklessly and causing a 2010 crash on state Highway 500 that killed his passenger.

Christopher M. Aleo, 32, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide relating to the Oct. 13, 2010, death of his friend, 29-year-old Veronica Martin.

Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu said Aleo was driving east on the highway when he ran a red light while turning onto Stapleton Road, lost control of the car and hit a light pole head-on. The crash occurred about 2 a.m. Aleo ran away from the scene, Vu said, and was found about two hours later by police a mile from the crash site.

Martin, who suffered a severed aorta, died at the scene. She left behind two young children, including an infant, Vu said.

A blood test showed a small amount of methamphetamine in his system, the deputy prosecutor said, but a doctor concluded it wasn’t enough of the substance to impair Aleo’s driving. Aleo was charged with operating a vehicle in a reckless manner, not driving while impaired.

Charged with felony hit and run in addition to vehicular homicide, Aleo took the plea deal to avoid greater penalties for the hit and run, said his attorney, David Kurtz.

The defense attorney said his client didn’t remember the crash, which he believed could have been caused by Aleo’s history of seizure disorder.

Aleo admitted to consuming meth — but told the judge it took place two days before the crash. He conceded, though, that he was living a reckless lifestyle at the time of the crash.

“I believe I made a mistake,” he said. “I shouldn’t have been driving that car.”

“Medical condition or not, this has been an awful nightmare for everyone,” Aleo added, apologizing to the victim’s family.

Moments before Aleo spoke, the victim’s mother, Rebecca Martin, told Aleo she didn’t want to hear an apology from him. She said she wanted him to stop using drugs and alcohol before he tried to say he was sorry.

“He was a coward. He left her all by herself,” Martin said. “And I really hope he gets the help he needs.”

Aleo has already served 295 days of his 87-month sentence. Upon his release from prison, he will be under community supervision for 18 months.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts; www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.