Kamas man accepts manslaughter plea
A Kamas man charged with automobile homicide in a crash that killed a fellow South Summit High School alum in October accepted a plea deal on Monday.
Randon Kenneth Robertson, 20, pled guilty in Summit County’s 3rd District Court to manslaughter, a second-degree felony. Manslaughter is punishable upon conviction by one to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. His sentencing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday, May 23.
Robertson faced several additional charges, including failure to stop at a serious injury or accident and obstructing justice. However, those charges were dropped through the plea deal.
Matt Bates, Summit County prosecutor, said manslaughter and automobile homicide are essentially the same level of offense and carry the same punishment, but offer a different theory about how the homicide happened.
‘The way our office looks at this is we have a homicide and that is the driving thing here," Bates said. "If he is willing to admit to it, we are not really concerned about the other misdemeanor charges that are on there and so we dropped those."
According to court documents, on Oct. 24 at around 4 a.m. the Utah Highway Patrol and Summit County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a single-vehicle accident near mile marker 2 on State Road 150 (Mirror Lake Highway).
Law enforcement officials found a grey Nissan Titan resting on its roof and Larry Paul, 28, a 2006 South Summit graduate, in the weeds on the side of the road. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Robertson and another passenger, Logan Brown, 18, of Kamas, were found at Robertson’s home with minor injuries.
Robertson later admitted to Utah Highway Patrol troopers that he had been drinking and driving after initially denying any involvement in the accident and claiming his truck had been stolen. He said he was driving "very fast" and took a turn too sharply while looking and yelling at Paul. He overcorrected, causing the truck to roll.
A toxicology report showed Robertson had a blood-alcohol concentration of .11 more than three hours after the accident. The legal limit is .08. At the time of the accident, Robertson was an alcohol-restricted driver without a valid license. He previously pled guilty to two charges of a minor in possession.
Bates said the victim’s family has not had much contact with his office since the accident.
"This is an usual case because the victim has not had much in the way of family come to court and his adopted sister came to court on Randon’s behalf. She has been completely in Randon’s corner," Bates said.
At Robertson’s first bail hearing, Paul’s former legal guardian, Juliana Viar, spoke on Robertson’s behalf. Robertson and Paul both graduated from South Summit High School. Viar had referred to Paul’s death as a "horrible mistake" and said she believed Robertson is "remorseful and understands the seriousness" of the situation.
Bates said he hopes "that folks in Summit County sit up and pay attention now that we have had two deaths from automobile accidents where alcohol was a factor." The second fatality occurred last week on Interstate 80 near Kimball Junction.
"Neither of these should have happened," Bates said. "This is the one of the most easily preventable tragedies that there is. Just don’t drink and drive. We shouldn’t be having automobile homicides. We have had a couple of stark reminders of the serious and tragic consequences when you choose to drink and drive."
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