Written by The Herald-News
A 22-year-old Wolf Point man has pleaded guilty to charges filed after an Interstate 94 crash in August 2012 that killed one of his passengers and injured another.
According to a recent report from The Billings Gazette, Justino Jason Hernandez pleaded guilty, Oct. 22, to negligent homicide and negligent vehicular assault for the crash Aug. 7, 2012, that killed Kevor J. Martell, 21, and injured Alexander Barr, 21.
Martell died at the scene of the crash.
Court documents state Hernandez told a Montana Highway Patrol officer that Martell requested to use his cellphone and took the steering wheel while Hernandez entered his password to unlock his phone, resulting in the vehicle drifting into the median.
Hernandez said he took the wheel and overcorrected, which caused the car to roll. Witnesses told investigators they saw Hernandez's vehicle speeding without headlights on before the crash.
Documents state that prior to the accident, Hernandez went to buy new light bulbs for his headlights, but was unable to get them to work. Documents also alleged that Hernandez admitted to investigators that he had been drinking while driving.
Hernandez was charged Oct. 2, 2012, and arraigned the next month. Prior to the incident, Hernandez, a military veteran, had no criminal record.
During his arraignment, Hernandez pleaded not guilty to the charges. A prosecutor said Hernandez was cooperative with investigator and contacted law enforcement when he learned the charges had been filed.
District Judge Mary Jane Knisely also allowed Hernandez to remain free while the case was pending; Kinsley did require Hernandez to acquire an electronic alcohol-monitoring device, and she prohibited him from driving except for work.
The sentencing for Hernandez is set for Dec. 30.