A 62-year-old Vancouver man was found guilty by a jury Friday of vehicular homicide, a charge stemming from him striking and killing an elderly man who was crossing a Washougal road in September 2018.
Michael Evan Ross-Morales was convicted on that charge, as well as hit-and-run involving a death and second-degree driving with a suspended license, according to Senior Deputy Prosecutor Colin Hayes.
Ross-Morales’ trial began Monday in Clark County Superior Court. Jurors began deliberating Thursday afternoon and reached a decision by Friday afternoon.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, Ross-Morales borrowed a Hyundai Accent belonging to his roommate, Dean Miesbauer, on the afternoon of Sept. 30, 2018, to deliver legal paperwork to a Camas residence.
Around 8:20 p.m., Washougal police were dispatched to a crash involving a pedestrian near the corner of Washougal River Road and E Street.
Witnesses said a car was speeding south on Washougal River Road toward the intersection of E Street. The victim, 65-year-old Michael Simmelink, was crossing the road with a walker from east to west, close to the entrance of a gas station. Surveillance video from the gas station captured the speeding vehicle, the affidavit says.
“The vehicle struck the pedestrian, throwing him violently into the air and landing him in the parking lot of the gas station several feet away from the impact location,” the affidavit reads.
Investigators said the car’s brake lights briefly illuminated, but the driver did not stop to help Simmelink or call 911. Simmelink was taken to a hospital but died of his injuries Oct. 7, 2018.
Miesbauer and another man picked up Ross-Morales after the crash on Crown Road in Camas. Miesbauer had called police about 10:30 p.m. and said his Hyundai had been stolen while Ross-Morales was using it. Ross-Morales told police a “young kid got in the car and drove off,” according to the affidavit.
The missing Hyundai was located a day after the crash on Southeast Strong Avenue, near Crown Road in Camas, with damage to the windshield and bumper. DNA belonging to Simmelink was taken from the windshield. Additional DNA evidence taken from the vehicle’s gear shift came back as a match to Ross-Morales, the affidavit says.
Ross-Morales has been in custody since May 2019.
Hayes said in an email that the facts of the case did not change over the course of the trial. Ross-Morales’ defense attorney did not return a request for comment.
Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 10.