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Court renders guilty trial verdicts in negligent homicide complaint

Sun Advocate editor

On Sept. 5, the 7th District Court rendered guilty verdicts in the negligent homicide case filed against a Brigham City motorist in connection with a triple fatal traffic accident in Cat Canyon.

The defendant, 52-year-old Irene C. Apodaca, appeared at a bench trial in the misdemeanor category criminal complaint last Thursday before Judge Bruce K. Halliday.

Carbon County Attorney Gene Strate served as the state prosecutor and Dale Douris represented the defendant during the criminal proceeding.

After weighing the evidence presented at the trial, Judge Halliday found Apodaca guilty on three separate class A negligent homicide counts along with an additional class C improper passing traffic violation.

The court ordered a presentence investigation in the criminal matter and directed the defendant to report to the Utah Department of Corrections in Price.

At the conclusion of last Thursday's trial proceeding, the district judge tentatively scheduled pronouncement of judgment and sentence in Apodaca's class A and class C misdemeanor category criminal convictions on Nov. 12.

The class A negligent homicide offenses filed against the motorist stem from a chain-reaction collision on U.S. Highway 6 east of Wellington that claimed the lives of three California men on July 25, 2001.

According to the Utah Highway Patrol's investigation into the incident, the accident occurred when a mini-van allegedly crossed the center line to pass a semi-truck and forced the victims' Lincoln Towncar off the roadway.

The Lincoln's driver purportedly attempted to bring the vehicle back onto the highway, but apparently overcorrected and struck a Ford Tauras.

The Towncar then collided into a tractor-trailer and the force of the impact demolished the Lincoln. All three occupants traveling in the Towncar succumbed to accident-related injuries.

The UHP's investigation into the fatal mishap identified Apodaca as the motorist operating the mini-van at the time of the incident.

Filed in the district court by the Carbon County Attorney's Office, the misdemeanor category complaint contended that the defendant acted with criminal negligence and caused the deaths of the three in the Cat Canyon accident.

The criminal information identifies the victims of the class A negligent homicide counts as Oran Neve, Donald Wayne Neve and Donald Christopher Neve.

Along with the three negligent homicide charges, the formal complaint filed against the Brigham City motorist contended that Apodaca, at the time and date in question, drove a vehicle "on the left side of the pavement striping designed to make a no-passing zone."

Pursuant to Utah statute, individuals convicted of committing a class A misdemeanor category offense may be sentenced to one year in jail and fined $2,500 plus applicable fees, assessments and interest.

Under state law, the maximum penalties imposable in class C criminal convictions include a 90-day jail term along with a $750 fine.

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