Driver pleads guilty to dragging girl

  • Article by: CURT BROWN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 21, 2007 - 11:16 PM

A driver who hit and dragged an 11-year-old girl nearly 500 yards in West St. Paul last month pleaded guilty Wednesday to two felonies.

A driver who hit and dragged an 11-year-old girl nearly 500 yards in West St. Paul last month pleaded guilty Wednesday to two felonies.

State sentencing guidelines call for 18-month stayed sentences for the two counts of criminal vehicular operation resulting in great bodily harm. But Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said he plans to ask the judge to imprison Mauricio Sanchez, 33, of St. Paul for three years when he is sentenced March 21.

"We believe this man showed particular cruelty, and his attempt to flee after striking the young girl resulted in life-threatening and permanent debilitating injuries," Backstrom said. "She was close to dying."

Sixth-grader Gladys Reyes remains at Regions Hospital in serious condition. Her right arm was amputated because of her injuries.

Sanchez asked to be sentenced immediately because he has been distraught since the accident, his lawyer said. "My client is sincerely aware of the responsibility he needed to take, and he took that responsibility for his action in what is a tragic, tragic accident," said Patrick Cotter.

Backstrom said he thinks Sanchez wanted to be sentenced immediately to protect himself from more serious charges, should Reyes' condition worsen. Prosecutors urged the judge to wait a month before sentencing him so they could monitor her condition for as long as possible.

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