- Fatal Early Morning Crash in Myrtletown
- Judge Denies Bail for 19-Year-Old Ferndale Resident Accused of DUI Manslaughter in Myrtletown
Just two weeks after his arrest for the death of a Eureka teen, 19-year-old Ismael Lopez Jr. pleaded guilty today to all charges.
Lopez was scheduled this afternoon for a preliminary hearing, held to determine whether there is enough evidence for a trial. Instead his attorney, Conflict Counsel Meagan O’Connell, told Judge John Feeney the Ferndale man “would like to enter his plea today.”
On Dec. 17, Lopez was driving with a blood alcohol level about twice the legal limit when his car crashed into two parked vehicles on Myrtle Avenue. His passenger, 18-year-old Emily Perry, was killed in the early-morning crash near Russell Lane.
Lopez was hospitalized for his injuries but was arrested Dec. 28 on a warrant.
Vehicular manslaughter cases usually take months, if not years, to resolve. But Feeney, speaking to Deputy District Attorney Jane Mackie, said if Lopez Jr. wanted to plead guilty today, “we have no alternative but to accept that.”
The judge then ordered a break in the hearing so Mackie could contact Perry’s grieving family and inform them about the surprise change of plea.
Lopez admitted to vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence and drunken driving causing injury. He also admitted the special allegation that his blood alcohol level was .15 percent or higher when the fatal crash occurred.
Before accepting the plea, Feeney asked Lopez whether he’d had enough time to discuss his decision with his attorney. The judge also wanted Lopez to understand “there’s no promise or guarantee that you’ll be placed on a grant of probation.”
Feeney referred the case to the Probation Department for a pre-sentence investigation and report. The Probation Department will make a recommendation on the sentence.
Lopez was in the courtroom today, wearing an orange jumpsuit, a mask and gloves.
At prosecutor Mackie’s request, Feeney ordered that Lopez be held without bail until his sentencing on Feb. 4. The sentencing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. in Courtroom Two.
At a hearing last week, Perry’s mother said her daughter was a straight-A student who planned to become a dentist. Perry graduated from Eureka High School, was enrolled in college and was already living on her own.