Thursday, February 4, 2010/lk
KENNEWICK - Edward Eusebio Castilleja of Prosser will serve at least 41 months in prison on charges of vehicular assault and vehicular homicide.
That was the result yesterday, Wednesday, when Castilleja filed a plea in Benton County Superior Court.
The charges stem from a crash this past November when the State Patrol said Castilleja, 49, drove his truck eastbound in the westbound lanes of I-82 and collided head-on with a vehicle driven by Grandview's Angelica Barajas, 20, who died at the scene.
The Benton County Superior Court confirmed this morning the assault charge was filed because a passenger in Barajas' car, 11-year-old Stephanie Vega, was injured in the crash.
Rather than entering a guilty plea, though, Castilleja filed what is called an Alford plea, according to court officials.
Essentially an Alford plea allows the person to not admit guilt, yet admit there's enough evidence to be convicted.
Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Andy Miller said the plea is primarily used when a person "doesn't want to say in court I did it."
He added, "There's no advantage to it legally. It doesn't do anything, the range of sentencing is still the same."
In Castilleja's case, the range of sentencing is 41 to 54 months for both charges combined.
Castilleja is scheduled to be sentenced in two weeks.