WILKES-BARRE — A Cumberland County man will serve time in jail for an alcohol-related crash that killed a woman in Hazle Township, but it won’t be the full three-year mandatory minimum sentence.
Luzerne County prosecutors withdrew the charge of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence against Onix Gorbea-Lespier, 52, during a hearing before Judge Lisa Gelb.
The charge carries a mandatory sentence of three years in prison.
Instead, Gorbea-Lespier pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide, aggravated assault by vehicle, two counts of driving under the influence and careless driving in a negotiated plea deal his lawyer, Demetrius Fannick, worked out with Deputy Assistant District Attorney Chester F. Dudick and Assistant District Attorney Michelle A. Hardik.
The plea deal calls for Gorbea-Lespier to serve a sentence of 18 months to three years in jail.
Gelb accepted the plea deal, and scheduled sentencing for June 23.
State police at Hazleton said Gorbea-Lespier had a blood-alcohol level of .084 percent after he struck Kayla Bahrey, 18, of McAdoo, along the shoulder of Interstate 81 near Exit 141 on July 3, 2011. Bahrey was pushing a disabled vehicle when she was struck.
An adult driver in Pennsylvania is legally intoxicated with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or higher.
The case was delayed for more than a year on appeal over a second blood test administered to Gorbea-Lespier after the crash.
Gelb in 2012 ruled that the second test could not be admitted because state troopers did not provide Gorbea-Lespier a second warning that he faced license suspension for refusing the test.
Prosecutors appealed the ruling to the state Superior Court.
The appellate court in April 2013 issued an opinion reinstating the second test results, stating that a second warning was not required because Gorbea-Lespier had been read his rights when he submitted to the first blood test.
Gorbea-Lespier told police he was returning home after attending a picnic in Albrightsville and admitted to drinking at the picnic, according to court papers.