Walla Walla man sentenced in injury crash

Rozas Alaniz Jr. was ordered to serve 15 months in prison in connection with a hit-and-run crash.

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WALLA WALLA -- The driver of a vehicle who caused an injury crash in the city this fall and ran from the scene was sentenced Monday afternoon in Superior Court to 15 months in prison.

Rozas Alaniz Jr., 20, of 524 E. Cherry St., was ordered to serve the midpoint of the standard range of 13-17 months he faced. Judge Donald W. Schacht went along with a prosecution recommendation in imposing the sentence.

Earlier at the hearing, Alaniz apologized to Schacht and said, "I know I made a mistake, hope to get it behind me and get on the right path when I get out (of prison)."

His attorney, Jerry Makus, asked for a low-end sentence of 13 months, saying if Alaniz doesn't "get the message" during that time, a couple more months won't make any difference. But Deputy Prosecuting Attorney April King argued the low end wasn't appropriate and there is a public safety interest in "keeping (Alaniz) out of the community."

In explaining the midrange sentence, Schacht said he rejected the low end, partly because at the time of the crash Alaniz was on community custody from a recent conviction and his driver's license had been suspended.

Schacht gave Alaniz credit for the 40 days he'd served in the County Jail related to the case.

Alaniz pleaded guilty Dec. 6 to hit-and-run -- injury accident, which is a felony, and a gross-misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree assault.

Police said he was driving a vehicle east on Birch Street at First Avenue about 11:50 p.m. Oct. 8 when he failed to stop at a stop sign and collided with another vehicle.

He then fled on foot, as did his passenger.

Rubio D. Jimenez, 20, who was the other driver, and his passenger, John A. Nibler, also 20, suffered various injuries and were treated at Providence St. Mary Medical Center.

A third victim, Coleman D. Cantrell, 17, later checked into the hospital's ER. He told police he was the passenger in the vehicle from which the driver fled, and that Alaniz was that driver, according to a police report filed in court.

Alaniz was located about 7:50 a.m. Oct. 9 at a residence in the 600 block of West Poplar Street and arrested.

All three victims of the collision were treated and released from the hospital, but Jimenez returned four days later for additional treatment.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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