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Driver in fatal hit-and-run to be sentenced next month
The driver who killed 19-year-old pedestrian Christopher Humbert in a hit-and-run in July is scheduled to be sentenced next month in Yuma County Superior Court, after pleading guilty to the crime in a plea agreement.
A judge has set 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 16 as the time and date to sentence 26-year-old Joseph Dildine, of Yuma, on one count of leaving the scene of an accident involving a death. Dildine admitted to drinking beer, whiskey and rum before the incident and a records check revealed that he was driving on a suspended license at the time.
In return for Dildine's guilty plea, one count each of aggravated DUI and negligent homicide against him was dropped. He has been in custody on $100,000 bond since his arrest.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Dildine could be sentenced to a prison term ranging from 2 to 8 years and nine months, with the presumptive sentence being 3 and a half years. While the plea agreement does not contain any stipulations, it does indicate that probation is also available.
Yuma police responded to a report of a man down in the 3800 block of West 24th Street at about 4:21 a.m. July 3 and found Humbert lying in the road. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The initial investigation revealed that he had been struck by a vehicle between approximately 4 and 4:21 a.m. Police said they had an approximate time because he was dropped off in the area by someone.
Evidence at the scene indicated that the vehicle involved may have been a 2002 or newer full-sized gray or another light color Dodge pickup, possibly with four doors. The vehicle also had a front license plate of an American flag and bald eagle and possible damage in the center of the front bumper, grill and hood.
Yuma police arrested Dildine at about 11:23 a.m. on July 11 when an off-duty Yuma police officer spotted a vehicle matching the suspect's vehicle in the 4600 block of West Sharon Lane.
According to court records, on the morning of the incident, Dildine was driving westbound on 24th Street approaching Avenue C when he struck Humbert, who was standing in the center line street markings.
Court records also indicated that, when questioned by police, Dildine said he initially thought he had hit a curb. It wasn't until the following morning, when he saw the amount of damage to his pickup, that he thought he might have hit someone.
It was also indicated in court records that even after he learned Yuma police were looking for the driver who was involved, Dildine did not contact authorities.
During questioning by police, court records show that Dildine admitted to drinking beer, whiskey and rum before the incident. When asked about his level of intoxication during that same interview, Dildine said it was about a five.
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter at @YSJamesGilbert.