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A 2012 Hudson High School graduate pleaded not guilty Oct. 23 in a California court to five charges stemming from a Sept. 22 accident in which a 21-year-old nursing student was killed.
Riley Dean Hoover, 19, formerly of Hudson, now living in Chico, Calif., pleaded not guilty in the Superior Court of California, County of Butte, to five charges which include: DUI/alcohol gross bodily injury and causing a coma; driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent/causing injury; leaving the scene of an accident; the sale and transportation of marijuana, and the manufacture of a controlled substance other than PCP.
Hoover was originally charged Sept. 25 with gross vehicular manslaughter by the Butte County District Attorney's Office in California. However, according to Chico Police Lt. George Laver, the charge was amended Oct. 22 to driving under the influence/causing great bodily injury that resulted in a coma, which carries a stiffer penalty.
"In California, the way the laws are written, you will get more prison time being convicted of causing great bodily injury that results in a coma, than for simply causing the death," Laver said. "And [if convicted] he would have to serve 85 percent of his sentence versus 50 percent of the sentence on the vehicular manslaughter charge."
If convicted of causing great bodily injury that results in a coma, Hoover would have to serve his time in state prison, as opposed to county jail, Laver added.
Police allege Hoover was traveling about 45 mph when his 2009 GMC Envoy struck 21-year-old bicyclist Kristina Chesterman Sept. 22 around 11 p.m. near Walnut Street and Nord Avenue, according to Laver.
Miss Chesterman, a Chico State University nursing student, lived less than a mile from campus and was returning home after studying at the campus library. She was about two blocks from her apartment when struck, Laver said. Miss Chastenment died of her injuries Sept. 24.
"We don't believe [Hoover] even slowed down, whether he realized he hit her or not," Laver said.
Police found parts of a vehicle near the impact scene which they later identified as belonging to Hoover's vehicle, Laver said.
The parts were later identified as being from Hoover's vehicle, Laver said.
Hoover's attorney Robert Marshall called the accident "absolutely a tragic situation."
"My client's feelings, and his family's feelings, go out to the hesterman family," Marshall said.
After allegedly striking Miss Chesterman, police say Hoover drove about 2,000 feet to his apartment and crashed into a parked car.
"During the investigation, officers learned the collision at 730 Nord Ave. involved the vehicle which [allegedly] fled the scene of the collision at Walnut Street and Nord Avenue," according to a police press release.
Ten hours after the crash, Hoover registered a .10 blood alcohol content level, according to Laver.
The car Hoover was driving was registered to Atlas Constructors LLC, from Ohio, Laver said.
Police also allege that Hoover, who had about three pounds of hash in his car, packaged and ready to be shipped "to a location in Ohio," could be part of an illegal marijuana growing operation, according to Laver.
"The night of the crash, we found hashish in the car that was packaged and apparently was getting ready to be shipped to a location in Ohio," Laver said. "That's where the transportation charge comes into play."
In the investigation stemming from the accident, and subsequent search warrants, about 12 people have been arrested in a marijuana growing operation.
Miss Chesterman's father, Dave, said his daughter "deeply impacted everyone who had the pleasure of meeting her."
"One lady who only met her on two occasions, was so impressed by her and was so deeply saddened by her loss, has donated $25,000 to the Kristina Chesterman Memorial Nursing Scholarship to ensure that she is never forgotten," Dave Chesterman said. "That's how she affected people who knew her. She was only 21 and had already positively affected thousands of people who knew her --just imagine the good work she could have done in her lifetime."
A preliminary hearing on the charges has been scheduled for Dec. 5.
"My client's feelings, and his family's feelings, go out to the Çhesterman family," Marshall said.
If that were true, he would show some remorse and plead guilty. That would be the right thing to do.