Anahola man pleads in DUI crash that killed mother

LIHUE — An Anahola man pleaded no contest Tuesday to an intoxicated driving accident that claimed the life of his mother.

Joshua Kaleo Fernandez, 25, pleaded no contest to second-degree negligent homicide, a class B felony; first-degree negligent injury, a class C felony; and to an amended count of second-degree negligent injury, which was reduced to a misdemeanor charge. The plea deal dismisses all remaining counts.

Judge Kathleen Watanabe scheduled sentencing for Oct. 1.

According to statements in court from County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Melinda Mendes, the offenses occurred on Oct. 1, 2011. At around 2:47 p.m., a 1999 Ford Explorer that Fernandez was driving crossed the center line of Kuhio Highway in the vicinity of the Wailua Golf Course.

The truck collided with another pickup, resulting in the death of Fernandez’ passenger and mother, Laurey Fernandez. The accident also caused severe injuries to two passengers in the other vehicle.

Fernandez had his blood tested following the accident and the presence of morphine, oxycodone, methamphetamine and amphetamine was detected, Mendes said. He was also driving with a suspended driver’s license as a result of a second-degree theft conviction.

A 5th Circuit indictment filed Nov. 13, 2013, charged Fernandez with first-degree negligent homicide, along with two counts of second-degree assault, and two counts of first-degree negligent injury, and manslaughter.

The state will ask for up to 10 years in prison, according to the plea agreement. The defense may ask for probation.

Fernandez has 14 convictions from 2009 to 2013, contempt of court, failure to appear, theft, resisting arrest, and driving without a license. The most time he has served so far was 90 days in jail with a four-year felony probation.

Fernandez is currently in drug court for a second-degree theft conviction that occurred after the fatal accident, but before he was indicted on the matter. The sentencing in the negligent homicide case will result in the revocation of probation and his drug court status will be determined at the time of sentencing.

Defense attorney Mark Zenger declined to comment.

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