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Motorist Pleads Guilty to Auto Homicide

Motorist Pleads Guilty to Auto Homicide

Posted - Jan. 27, 2004 at 7:35 a.m.



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WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (AP) -- A motorist whose car careened out of control and struck three children playing in their driveway, killing two and severely injuring the third, has pleaded guilty to automobile homicide.

Michael Joseph Whitton, 19, entered the pleas Monday to the two second-degree felony auto homicide counts and also pleaded guilty to driving under the influence, a class A misdemeanor.

"It doesn't matter if they put him in for 15 or 30 years," Ana Saladana, the children's mother, said through an interpreter after Monday's hearing. "It's not going to change anything at this point."

The Sept. 18 accident occurred as Whitton was driving through the family's Taylorsville neighborhood.

His vehicle crossed the median, went into oncoming traffic, jumped a curb and veered into the driveway of the victims' home, hitting the three children.

Jorge Almeida-Robles, 9, and his sister, Yanira J. Robles, 4, were killed. Their brother, Christopher Robles, 6, was taken to a hospital in critical condition but has improved and is now walking with braces or crutches.

"His life is hard," said his father, Luis Robles. "He doesn't have anybody to play with him. He cries, 'I miss my brother.' "

Defense attorney Stan Adams said Whitton entered the pleas to avoid further anguish for the Robles family.

"He's been distraught over the whole situation," Adams said. "It's been a very difficult situation to have in front of a young 19-year-old man. He wants to say sorry."

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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