Archive for Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Attorney: Plea agreement in the works in hit-and-run fatality

A man charged in the hit-and-run death of a 20-year-old Lawrence woman waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday.

January 6, 2010


A man charged in the hit-and-run death of a 20-year-old Lawrence woman waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday.

Former Haskell Indian Nations University student Joel Hernandez, 21, is charged with vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of an accident, failing to report an accident and improper passing in connection with the death of Rachel Leek.

Leek was struck while riding her bike during the early morning hours of Oct. 16 in the 1000 block of Tennessee Street. She died from her injuries later that day.

Hernandez’s attorney told the judge he thinks the case will be resolved without going to trial and the defendant waived his right to a jury trial.

Originally the defense was just seeking a delay, but Douglas County District Judge Michael Malone denied the request, citing possible court closures under consideration by the State Supreme Court because of budget cuts.

The judge set the next court date for April 2.


sad_lawrencian 8 years, 4 months ago

Hmmmm doesn't sound too bad for Hernandez. Hit someone, killed them, gets a plea deal. Just wondering how long it'll be before he's out driving again.

lgreen17 8 years, 4 months ago

He didn't even get a DUI because in Lawrence, everyone knows if you kill someone drunk - HIDE. Then get a lawyer and turn yourself in.


Amy Heeter 8 years, 4 months ago

This just makes me sick. No justice for Rachel Leek here!

John Hamm 8 years, 4 months ago

Is anybody surprised about this? I'm not! Unhappy but not surprised.

samowen 8 years, 4 months ago

NO justice for rachel. but i think many of us had sadly resolved ourselves to that being the case several weeks, if not months ago. i don't live in lawrence anymore, but i will take with me the positivity and passion rachel had for living life wherever i go, and hope that lawrence, for it's own sake, will someday begin to actually prosecute the careless, intoxicated, frequently young lawlessness that infests the community.

ralphralph 8 years, 4 months ago

Step 1 = determine a fair sentence Step 2 = double it for running and hiding while the victim died in the street

grimpeur 8 years, 4 months ago

Please update this story with the possible implication's for the drunk driver's license. What are the standards regarding revocation/suspension for each of the charges?

It's become clear that lenience on habitual violators' licenses is a recurring and extremely dangerous problem on our roads. Multiple DUIs back on the road; habitual speeders and moving violators paying their way out of points on their driving records, a loophole which essentially erases all proof of the driver's poor driving, which is what the driving record points system is supposed to do; inattentive schmucks cruising blissfully unaware of their surroundings, because consistent lack of enforcement against obviously inattentive drivers sends the message that texting, cellphone use, headphones, and other stupid and dangerous behavior is OK.

Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, we can't get the jail time that drivers deserve. After all, when a jury of motorists looks at an aggressive, self-centered, impatient, drunk-driving, cell-phone-blabbering crappy driver facing charges, the sad fact is that they're probably looking at someone who drives just like 80% of the jurors. And they're not going to start convicting people for the consequences of the very same bad driving they (the jurors) do every day.

But it is damn well the responsibility of the police, prosecutors and courts to do what they can to 1) get these people off the road in the name of public safety, and 2) come down very hard when they drive in contempt of their sentences.

somedude20 8 years, 4 months ago

He may be able to skate out of any real time but he knows, as does most who have read the story, that Joel Hernandez is a grade A cowardly POS and aint karma a bi*ch

brujablanco 8 years, 4 months ago

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jehovah_bob 8 years, 4 months ago

Who says Lawrence is too lenient? You're all getting your tickets in the mail today for not cleaning your sidewalks.

emptymind 8 years, 4 months ago

I don't get it....this guy is charged with killing another person. No matter whether with a gun or car....and doesn't deny it. He is going to cut a deal with the DA and court? I pray he lives a long time to think about what happened, ...Mr DA.....YOU are wrong!

lgreen17 8 years, 4 months ago

grimpeur....he didn't get a DUI, that was the point....

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

Just because he waived his right does that mean a trial by jury cannot take place?

Amy Heeter 8 years, 4 months ago

That may be true Merrill, but the D.A. has done this before. The Judge will likely accept a plea. Joel will get probation and keep driving drunk.

Jonathan Becker 8 years, 4 months ago

Posters who blame the DA for this have the wrong person(s) in their sights. Blame the legislature for not putting more teeth in the statute for a death while driving. The laws are made in the legislature, not by the DA, who only executes what the irresponsible fools in Topeka refuse to pass.

And when you complain about the DUI statute, again, aim your complaint the right direction. Again the legislature passed a statute with alternatives that provide too much wiggle room and the license suspension has too many defenses. We should adopt the socialist law against drinking and driving in Sweden: .02% in blood or breath alcohol within 4 hours of operation of a vehicle. Walking past a glass of wine will get you above that standard.

Susan Mangan 8 years, 4 months ago

Plea deals are supposed to be for when getting a conviction could be difficult and justice would possibly not be served, otherwise. NOT when we have a lazy DA who doesn't want to risk his "conviction rate". Justice won't be served in Lawrence until we elect a DA who cares more about a case than his pretty stats. Pathetic.

SWJayhawk13 8 years, 4 months ago

He didn't get a DUI because the cops were never called because it was a hit and run..they couldn't have breathalyzed him and by the time they could've, the alcohol was out of his system. All they have is the testimony of people that were in the car with him, and that isn't physical evidence.

jafs 8 years, 4 months ago


They might also be able to get evidence from a bar/club that served them alcohol that night.

Amy Heeter 8 years, 4 months ago

They did examine the car and offered up deals for those in the car in exchange for testimony. Even Joel admits he fled the scene. It wouldn't be that difficult to prosecute this case.

brujablanco 8 years, 4 months ago

In what judicial district are you a prosecutor , artichoke? Wait, you are a professed anarchist, so your interest in this court's "justice" is what again?

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