A plea agreement was reached Aug. 20 in California Superior Court in the case of a former Hudson man charged in a Sept. 22, 2013, hit/skip accident which left a 21-year-old nursing student dead.
Riley Dean Hoover, now living in Chico, California, will be sentenced to seven years Sept. 5, after several charges were dropped as part of the deal, according to Hoover's attorney, Clyde Blackmon.
"There were negotiations and pursuant to those negotiations Riley entered a plea of no contest and will be sentenced to seven years in state prison," Blackmon said Aug. 21. "We pleaded to two charges and admitted an enhancement of inflicting great bodily injury and all other charges in the case were dismissed."
Police had alleged Hoover, a 2012 Hudson High School graduate, was traveling about 45 mph Sept. 22, 2013, around 11 p.m. when his 2009 GMC Envoy struck Kristina Chesterman, a Chico State University nursing student, according to Chico Police Lt. George Laver. She was about two blocks from her apartment when struck, according to police.
Miss Chesterman died of her injuries two days later. Police found parts of a vehicle near the impact scene they later identified as belonging to Hoover's vehicle, Laver said.
Hoover was arrested at his apartment, a short distance away, Laver said.
Police had also alleged Hoover was part of a drug ring after allegedly finding almost 3 pounds of "bubble hash," a potent form of hashish, Laver said.
As part of the plea deal Hoover pleaded no contest to DUI/ causing injury with a special causing great bodily injury enhancement and a felony hit and run, Blackmon said. All other charges were dropped, Blackmon said.
"We didn't have a jury trial," Blackmon said. "We resolved the case short of a jury trial."
Hoover was originally charged with felony money laundering; DUI/alcohol gross bodily injury; 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 had originally pleaded "not guilty" to all charges earlier this year.
According to California law, Hoover will only serve about 85 percent of his sentence, or just under six years, according to Butte County Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Bennett, who prosecuted the case. Hoover will also get credit for being in jail almost a year, she added.
Bennett called the sentence a "concrete outcome." She added that the outcome is not always known when a case goes to a jury trial.
"The maximum amount of time he can get for those three counts is seven years and he stipulated to the upper term," Bennett said. "So for those particular crimes, he is serving as much time as he can."
At the Sept. 5 sentencing hearing, Miss Chesterman's family will get a chance to make "impact statements and let the court and defendant know how this has impacted their lives," Bennett added.
"I'm pleased in terms that he pleaded to all the counts that had to do with the death of Kristina and those were the most egregious accounts and the accounts that mattered the most," Bennett added.
The Chesterman family did not think the deal was "fair," according to a post by Miss Chesterman's mom, Sandra, on the Remembering Kristina Chesterman Facebook page.
"We had very little time to give our input in this offer but based on the risks that we would take by going to trial, we reluctantly accepted this disgusting and unfair offer," Sandra wrote. "As we were agreeing to the offer, I specifically said it was an injustice and unfair that this is how our system works and we vowed to make the necessary changes to these ridiculous one sided laws. Neither Dave or I ever said that we felt this was a fair deal."
Sandra also posted a promise to her daughter.
"This is where it stops, I promise you, Kristina that your death will change the system," Sandra wrote.
Sandra vowed to "do everything in our power to change these laws so that the victims and their families will feel vindicated when the trial is over."