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Man pleads guilty in death of cab driver; woman wants public's help
Nearly 10 months after Floyd Gonzalez, drunk, ran a red light and smashed his SUV into a taxi at Auburn Way North and East Main Street, killing cabbie Brian Love on impact, Love's girlfriend, Cheryl Comb reels in grief.
Combs and Love had been together for more than seven years.
"My whole world has just been turned upside down since that day. When I lost him, I lost my home, I lost ... everything. There's not a minute that goes by that I don't think of him," Combs said.
And, unfortunately, of the man who took Love's life.
King County prosecutors originally charged Gonzalez, now 30, with vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment, and for felony fleeing the scene of an accident.
On April 23, after months of court delays and postponements, Gonzalez changed his plea to guilty, although only to vehicular homicide DUI to avoid a stiffer sentence on the other charges.
Gonzalez sentencing is at 2:45 p.m. May 9, at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. The standard sentencing range for vehicular homicide DUI is 10-13.1 years in prison.
According to the plea deal, the prosecuting attorney is to recommend as follows: 13.1 years in prison followed by 18 months of community custody. The state will agree to dismiss the other counts. Among other requirements, Gonzalez would also need to obtain a substance abuse evaluation with followup treatment, attend a DUI victim's panel and comply with ignition interlock requirements.
The recommended sentence takes into account that Gonzalez is a convicted felon who spent 10 years in prison for second-degree assault and first-degree kidnapping.
Gonzalez, Combs said, should answer to all the charges.
"Oh, I'm angry, I'm really, really angry," Combs said. "I mean, he postponed 17 times, he's been playing games and jerking everybody around. I don't think he deserves any time off; he had just gotten out of prison. If he only gets 10 years, he'll be 40 when he gets out. Plenty of time to go out and kill somebody else."
According to the Auburn Police statement of probable cause, at 5:51 a.m. on July 5, 2013, an Auburn police officer saw a 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe moving very rapidly southbound in the outside lane in the 00 block of Auburn Way North. The officer watched the SUV "punch the driver's side door of the taxi" directly behind the officer's vehicle, which was traveling eastbound on East Main Street on a green signal. The Tahoe rolled onto its roof, and when it came to a stop, the driver ran off westbound, leaving behind his injured girlfriend, Latasha Moses, in his overturned vehicle. She survived.
Officers caught up with Gonzalez on South Division Street, where a witness identified him as the driver of the SUV. Post Miranda, according to the statement, the man, identified by that time as Gonzales, admitted he was the driver.
"Officers smelled an obvious odor of intoxicants emanating from the driver and believed he had been consuming alcohol while driving," according to the statement.
Before Gonzalez is sentenced on May 9, Combs wants as many people as possible to send letters, expressing their feelings, to the sentencing judge, William A Bowman, via The King County Prosecutor's Victim's Advocate at email@example.com.
"They want me to get up and speak at the sentencing," Combs said through tears, struggling to compose the message she intends to read. "It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life — trying to get it all out."
All she has is memories of the gentle man with the big, bushy beard, who should still be living but is not.
"Every day. I get up, kiss his picture, tell him I love him," Combs said.