KENNEWICK — A Kennewick man who crashed his car into a bicyclist on a charity ride last May choked back tears Friday while telling the court it was all an accident.
Troy Hamilton Trusley, 32, was sentenced to five years and three months in prison for the vehicular assault.
He was reportedly under the influence of a "stimulant" when he struck Cindy Easterday Goulet, causing her to hit his windshield and be thrown over the car.
"I just wanted to start off by saying I'm sorry for what happened to Ms. Goulet," said a crying Trusley. "... This case went to trial for a reason because I believe it was an accident. ... I feel bad about this whole situation."
Trusley opted not to have a jury hear the Benton County Superior Court case. He was convicted by Judge Craig Matheson at the conclusion of a two-day bench trial.
Goulet was not at Friday's hearing.
Matheson agreed that the crash in Kennewick's Columbia Park was an accident, but noted that Trusley was under the influence and it "shouldn't have happened, of course."
"I don't think anybody is claiming that he intentionally ran this woman down," he said.
The West Richland woman was riding about 9 a.m. May 9 with her sister and two friends on Columbia Park Trail in a line, with Goulet the second-to-last bicyclist in the group.
They were near Edison Street when Trusley's Pontiac struck Goulet from behind.
She was taken by ambulance to Kennewick General Hospital with two broken ribs and other injuries. She was wearing a helmet.
While talking with police at the scene, Trusley reportedly showed no signs of alcohol use but refused to voluntarily submit to having his blood drawn. In a series of field sobriety tests, he lost his balance, "swayed significantly" and failed to follow instructions, court documents said.
Cpl. Chris Bennett, a drug recognition expert with Kennewick police, determined that Trusley was "under the influence of a central nervous system stimulant and was unsafe to drive," documents said.
However, Trusley denied to police that he'd taken any drugs.
Trusley's criminal history includes convictions for second-degree identity theft, residential burglary, tampering with a witness, taking a vehicle without permission, second-degree burglary, second-degree theft and a hit-and-run. The record dates to 1995.
When he hit Goulet, Trusley was on a special Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative, which means he had received shortened jail time for a previous conviction and was supposed to be undergoing drug treatment.
Friday, Trusley pleaded for mercy from Matheson and asked to have a 21/2-year sentence for that violation run at the same time as the vehicular assault sentence. He also asked to have an appeal bond set at $10,000 so he can get out of custody while fighting his conviction.
"Locking someone up for an excessive amount of time is not the answer," he said.
Deputy Prosecutor Terry Bloor had requested a sentence of six years and three months and at least $75,000 for an appeal bond.
"I do think it's significant that he was on a DOSA when this happened," he said.
Defense attorney Shelley Ajax said the five-year, three-month term was better because that was the original offer by prosecutors before taking the case to trial.
Ajax told the court that Trusley realizes he is going to prison. She described him as a "helpful and polite client," and said he was crying and very sorry while at the crash scene just after hitting Goulet.
Trusley did have a valid driver's license and insurance, but now will lose his license for being convicted of a felony related to the use of a vehicle.
Matheson initially announced that he believed the situation didn't justify a sentence at the bottom of the standard range, but reconsidered once he heard Trusley's insurance covered Goulet's injuries. However, Matheson also noted an "innocent person" was hit while out on a ride and that Trusley has a "continuous record."
He refused to let Trusley serve the DOSA probation violation at the same time as the vehicular assault sentence.
"Mr. Trusley, really at your age you need to make sure you're successful this time when you come out and you make sure to stay out of trouble. You lead a life that doesn't injure other people," Matheson said.
He also denied the appeal bond, saying he didn't think it would be of much help. Matheson added that once Trusley has finished his 30-month violation sentence, before starting the prison time on this case, he may reconsider the request if the case hasn't already gone before the Washington state Court of Appeals.
Ajax did file a notice of appeal.
w Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; firstname.lastname@example.org