Man to be sentenced in fatality


By JOHN BURNETT

Tribune-Herald staff writer

A 53-year-old Pahoa man accused of killing a woman and seriously injuring a man when his car collided with a motorcycle in Puna last year will be sentenced next month.

Fidel Jeronimo Bautista Jr. pleaded no contest Monday morning to first-degree negligent homicide, first-degree negligent injury and DUI. In a deal with prosecutors, charges of driving without a license and insurance were dropped.

Sentencing is set for March 16 at 8:30 a.m. before Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura.

Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ann Hollocker declined to disclose terms of the plea agreement or Bautista's blood-alcohol content at the time of the collision. Negligent homicide is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison while negligent injury is a felony carrying a prison sentence of up to five years.

On May 18, Bautista was driving west on Highway 130 shortly before 10 p.m. when he made a left turn onto Ainaloa Boulevard, failing to yield the right of way. The 1994 Toyota four-door sedan he was driving struck a 1997 Honda motorcycle traveling east.

The collision killed 61-year-old Linda McKee of Vancouver, Wash., a passenger on the motorcycle, and seriously injured the 55-year-old motorcycle rider, Michael Hammond. Neither were wearing helmets.

Bautista and his two women passengers, ages 45 and 23, were treated for minor injuries and released.

Bautista has been in custody since his arrest shortly after the collision, unable to post $55,250 bail. He was assisted in court by a Spanish-language interpreter.

The DUI conviction is Bautista's second in Hawaii. On July 21, 2009, he was found guilty of DUI and driving without insurance in Hilo District Court. He was fined $1,500 and his driver's license was suspended for a year.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.