Sentencing postponed for 7th time in Los Banos hit-and-run case

10/16/2013 7:50 PM

10/17/2013 12:14 PM

Sentencing was postponed for the seventh time Wednesday for a man who pleaded guilty to killing an Army reservist in a March hit-and-run crash.

Jesse Ryan Fuentes, 24, stood up in court in a green-striped jumpsuit as Judge Harry Jacobs informed the public that Fuentes would not be sentenced this month.

“The short version is Mr. Fuentes has requested that the attorney be relieved,” Jacobs said.

Fuentes’ former attorney, Dominic Falasco, was with his client in May when Fuentes pleaded guilty to charges of felony hit-and-run causing death and misdemeanor driving on a suspended license. Since that time, six sentencing dates have been scheduled, with the attorney missing or asking for a postponement of each one. Last month when Falasco was a no-show for the sixth time, Jacobs ordered him to appear in court the following week to provide an explanation. Falasco did not appear at the hearing Jacobs scheduled.

Falasco could not be reached for comment.

Authorities say Fernando Buenrostro Jr., 18, was killed when he was hit by a pickup while riding a motorized scooter near Cardinal Street and Fairmont Drive in Los Banos on March 16. Fuentes was found and arrested by police four days later when his father was spotted driving a damaged pickup on Mercey Springs Road.

Fuentes is now being represented by Deputy Public Defender Todd McLean, who will meet with Jacobs and Assistant District Attorney Travis Colby on Nov. 6 to set a new sentencing date. “I want to make sure I have all the documentation and victim impact statements to make sure he gets a fair sentencing,” McLean said.

He said he’s used to getting assigned cases that are already in progress.

McLean said he doesn’t expect the sentencing hearing to be complicated. “It’s not like he’s trying to withdraw the plea,” McLean said.

Fuentes is facing a maximum of four years in prison.

Buenostro’s family has been at each hearing since the case began and indicated they are willing to wait as long as it takes so they can express their opinions on what they believe would be an appropriate sentence.

The plea was not a result of an agreement with prosecutors, and the judge will determine Fuentes’ sentence. Fernando Buenrostro Sr., the victim’s father, said he is satisfied with Fuentes pleading guilty.

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