Man pleads guilty to two charges in chase

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WALLA WALLA — A man pleaded guilty Thursday in Superior Court to driving a stolen pickup involved in a vehicle chase with law enforcement last spring.

Antonio S. Contreras, 26, entered guilty pleas to two felonies — possession of a stolen motor vehicle and attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle.

Contreras faces a standard-range prison term of about 3 1/2 to 4 3/4 years when he’s sentenced later. But in exchange for his guilty pleas, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is recommending he be sentenced under an alternative for drug offenders that would reduce his period of incarceration to two years and one month.

He then would be released and placed on community custody for an additional two years and one month.

In both venues, he would have to participate in and complete drug-offender treatment.

The prosecution also agreed to drop five other charges — vehicular assault, possessing methamphetamine, using drug paraphernalia, third-degree driving while license suspended and obstructing a law enforcement officer — against Contreras.

Had he been convicted of all counts, his standard range would have been 5 1/4 to seven years in prison. He might have been sentenced to an even longer term because of his extensive criminal history that totals 15 prior offenses he committed either as an adult or a juvenile.

A new trial date for Contreras recently had been set for Aug. 21, but the proceeding won’t be held because of his guilty pleas Thursday.

Contreras was arrested after a College Place police officer saw the 1994 Ford Ranger about 1 p.m. May 13 in the area of College Avenue and 13th Street. When the officer confirmed the vehicle was stolen, he pursued it, and saw the driver run a stop sign and drive on the wrong side of the road, according to a Sheriff’s Office report filed in court.

Speeds were clocked at up to about 70 mph before the pickup crashed on Stateline and Rainville roads and rolled over, officials said.

Passenger Katie A. Sargent — also known as Katie A. Waite — was partially ejected and suffered possible internal injuries. She was taken by ambulance to Providence St. Mary Medical Center, but reportedly walked out of the emergency room while being treated.

Contreras, who had run east from the scene of the crash, was located by authorities and taken to Walla Walla General Hospital, where he was treated and then booked into the County Jail.

Officials also said they located suspected methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia outside of the pickup, Contreras was uncooperative and his driver’s license had been suspended.

Contreras’ criminal history includes involvement in a home invasion robbery on Southeast Fourth Street in College Place in April 2011. He ended up pleading guilty to reduced charges because of his cooperation in the case and was sentenced to 11 months in the County Jail.

He said at his sentencing for that crime that he’s a good person when he’s sober, but has addictions — the worst of which is meth.

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