Kennewick man pleads guilty to hit-and-run

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldApril 3, 2014 

A 27-year-old man admitted Thursday that he was driving a speeding car when it crashed into a retaining wall in Kennewick.

George W. Pleasant II pleaded guilty in Benton County Superior Court to one count of hit and run, a gross misdemeanor.

Pleasant didn't have anything to say to Judge Vic VanderSchoor before being sentenced to three months in jail with 274 days suspended.

The Kennewick man left the scene before emergency officials responded Sept. 21 to 10th Avenue and Vancouver Street.

Kennewick police and paramedics had received reports of a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am that had crashed.

Front seat passenger Orlando Sherrell told police that his left knee hit the center console, and the air bag hit him in the chest. He "appeared to be in a lot of pain" when authorities arrived, but refused medical attention by paramedics, according to court documents.

Sherrell initially said he had been picked up 20 minutes prior by "Jorge," then eventually gave Pleasant's full name.

He said Pleasant may have been drinking before getting his passenger, and "was driving like a crazy person going 70 mph on Vancouver," documents said.

Witnesses reported that the Pontiac was traveling too fast when it crashed into the retaining wall at the southeast corner of 10th and Vancouver. They also told officers about seeing a person check on the passenger, then walk away quickly on south Vancouver.

Pleasant originally was charged with felony hit and run with injury.

Deputy Prosecutor Amy Harris reduced the charge because of "doubts that two necessary witnesses will appear for trial," she wrote in court documents.

"This is based upon the lack of cooperation exhibited during the investigation and their relationship with (Pleasant)," Harris added.

The gross misdemeanor charge will hold Pleasant accountable and ensure a conviction for his role in the crime, she said.

Pleasant has been behind bars since Jan. 4 on $10,000 bail, but also is sitting out fines for failing to comply with a District Court case.

Defense attorney Shelley Ajax said it will be up to the jail to determine her client's release date since he may have credit for time served.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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