By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Two weeks after his arrest for walking away from the scene of an early morning wreck he caused which left a Winlock woman with serious injuries, 28-year-old Robert A. Hicks pleaded guilty and apologized.
“I’m truly sorry,” Hicks said. “If I could trade places, I would.”
Hicks was sentenced yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court for vehicular assault, hit and run and tampering with a witness.
He admitted to the judge when asked, he was texting and driving as his car crossed over the center line.
Given he had no prior felony criminal history, the top of the standard sentencing range was 17 months in prison. And that’s what he got.
“I have to tell you, if it were legally possible for me to impose a greater sentence, I would definitely do it,” Judge Nelson Hunt said.
The head-on collision occurred on the 200 block of North Military Road in Winlock on July 24. A passing citizen found the two wrecked vehicles and called 911 at about 5:26 a.m.
Mechelle Crosse, 50, had multiple broken bones including in her face and back.
“She’s laying in bed crying because she’s helpless,” her daughter Nicole Ettner said as she asked the judge to hand down the maximum sentence. “My mom has never hurt a fly.”
The mother of 10 and grandmother of 12 needs 24-hour care because her mouth is wired shut, her sister-in-law Carla Ladino added.
“We’re not a rich family, and it’s hard on everybody,” Ladino said.
Hicks hung his head during most parts of the court hearing.
The electrician who had recently relocated to Winlock admitted to leaving the scene, and to calling his ex-girlfriend and telling her to report the car stolen.
Hicks wasn’t arrested until Aug. 10, in Olympia shortly after the case gained region wide attention, through the television show Washington’s Most Wanted.
His lawyer David Arcuri said his client earlier in the day was talking about writing a letter of apology.
Restitution, which will be substantial according to Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer, will be determined at a later date.
For background, read “Using cell phone while driving suspected in Winlock wreck” from Thursday August 11, 2016, here