A Bellevue man has chosen to take an Alford plea in pleading guilty to felony leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury or death at a change-of-plea hearing on Tuesday.
An Alford plea is defined as a plea that states that the defendant maintains his innocence, but fearing more severe penalties if convicted enters a plea of guilty.
Calub Carl Castle, 24, was arrested on Sept. 18 for the felony charge, as well as a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving. The misdemeanor was dropped in the plea agreement on Tuesday. The arrest came after a crash-scene investigation by the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office into an Aug. 8 rollover injury accident on Gannett Road south of Labrador Lane, near Bellevue, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
According to Sheriff’s Office, the investigation determined that two white trucks were traveling south on Gannett Road, side by side, at speeds well above the posted speed limit. Witnesses reported that Castle drove at high speeds, entered the wrong lane of travel and blocked the other truck from passing, records indicate.
According to records, a 2002 white Ford F350 pickup truck went off the road, and was later found upside down with severe damage all over and the roof of the cab crushed. Tanner Blair Cheney and James Everett Thomas had been ejected from the truck and were each lying about 30 feet from it.
“Castle exited his vehicle approximately two miles from the crash scene, leaving passengers to return to the rollover crash. Castle knowingly left the scene and did not return or report the incident,” a September news release from the Sheriff’s Office stated.
The accident resulted in Cheney and Thomas sustaining serious injuries, records indicate.
At the hearing in 5th District Court on Tuesday, Castle’s attorney, Doug Nelson, spoke on his behalf to say that his client was entering an Alford plea because he does not agree to all the facts of the case that would have been presented by the state if a jury trial were to take place. Castle did admit, through his lawyer, to “playing grab ass” with the other truck on the road that day.
Castle is scheduled for a sentencing hearing on June 18. The maximum penalty for the felony is a $5,000 fine and five years in prison.