Oregon man pleads guilty in baby's car crash death

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: November 30, 2011, 6:42 PM

 

An Oregon man accused of causing a crash this summer that killed a 3-month-old boy pleaded guilty Wednesday in Clark County Superior Court to vehicular homicide.

Christopher A. Roman, 26, who admitted to being intoxicated at the time of the accident, will be sentenced Dec. 9 by Judge Daniel Stahnke.

He faces between about four and a half years and five and a half years in prison, said Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu. Roman’s sentencing range includes a two-year enhancement because he was previously convicted of DUI in San Jose, Calif, in 2005.

Vu said Roman’s plea wasn’t the result of a plea bargain; he was simply pleading guilty as charged.

“He’s accepting responsibility and admitting fully what he did,” Vu said. “That counts for something.”

Because of Roman’s cooperation, Vu said he has agreed with defense attorney Clark Fridley to recommend a punishment at the low end of the sentencing range.

Roman was arrested following the Aug. 21 crash on northbound Interstate 5 near the Main Street exit. Prosecutors say he was intoxicated and driving at a high rate of speed when he lost control of his Acura and hit another Acura on the side of the freeway.

The baby’s parents, Terra Pina, 21, and Angel Pena, 23 (authorities said their names are spelled differently), were on their way home to the Puget Sound area from a camping trip. They were stopped on the left shoulder to fix a flat tire. The infant, Gabriel, was inside the disabled car and died at the scene, Washington State Patrol troopers said following the crash.

Several witnesses had called 911 prior to the crash to report Roman’s erratic driving, prosecutors said.

Roman works as a machine operator in Hillsboro, Ore., according to court documents.

The baby’s parents, Pina of Burien and Pena of Kent, were not present for Wednesday’s plea hearing; Vu said he expects them to attend the sentencing hearing.

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