Driver who killed Hudson's Bay teacher sent back to prison

He eluded police in a car after serving vehicular homicide sentence

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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A traffic offense will send a Hudson's Bay High School graduate back to prison, only a few months after completing his sentence for the vehicular homicide death of a teacher.

Antonio E. Cellestine pleaded guilty Wednesday to attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle and driving with a suspended license.

The standard sentencing range, 12 to 14 months, didn't seem sufficient, said Clark County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jeff McCarty. McCarty and Cellestine's court-appointed attorney, John Davis, agreed to ask for a 15-month exceptional sentence.

Going beyond state guidelines, McCarty later explained, would recognize that Cellestine's crimes were particularly egregious because he'd recently been released from prison and got himself into trouble by driving, even though he knew his license was suspended.

Clark County Superior Court Judge David Gregerson agreed that the crime called for an exceptional sentence, but didn't believe one additional month was enough.

So he sentenced Cellestine, who turns 22 on Saturday, to 18 months in prison.

Gregerson told Cellestine he has proved himself to be a danger to the community when he is behind the wheel.

Cellestine was arrested last month.

In January 2010, Cellestine was sentenced to five years in prison for the September 2009 death of Gordon Patterson, who had been one of Cellestine's teachers at Bay. Phone records indicated Cellestine was texting his girlfriend when his car struck Patterson, who had been riding his bicycle home from school and was in a bike lane near the top of the hill on Northeast St. Johns Road. Patterson was 50.

With the standard time off for good behavior, Cellestine was released from prison this year and had been out approximately two months at the time of his arrest. On the morning of July 17, he was southbound on Interstate 5 on his way to work — he'd been hired two weeks earlier by a temporary employment agency — when a Washington State Patrol trooper observed him cutting off the driver of a tractor-trailer and signaled for him to pull over.

Instead, Cellestine took the Mill Plain Boulevard exit and turned onto D Street, blowing through two stop signs, McCarty said. The trooper called off the pursuit because it was too dangerous to be speeding through a residential area, but took down the license plate. The vehicle was traced to Cellestine's mother, who, according to court documents, eventually said her son had been driving.

Davis told Gregerson that Cellestine had been working hard at restarting his life and that's not "truly reflected" in his criminal record.

"Although it is what it is," Davis said.

In a brief statement to Gregerson, Cellestine said he made a "major mistake."

McCarty said the new crimes mean Cellestine's license will be suspended even longer, and he couldn't predict how long it will be before Cellestine will be allowed to have a driver's license again.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com