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Legal Wrangling Continues in Los Gatos Fatal Crash Case, Sentencing Next

Timothy Priolo is facing five felony charges, including gross vehicular manslaughter in the death of Aaron Vega. One charge is an enhancement being sought for injuries suffered by one of two surviving passengers.

During a court trial Monday, which means Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Philip H. Pennypacker will decide 's fate as opposed to a jury, the parties considered an enhancement being sought related to injuries suffered by one of the two other passengers who were also riding in the car during the fatal crash that occurred when the car crashed into a tree and two poles at the intersection of Los Gatos Boulevard and Nino Avenue.

Priolo, 26, has plead no contest to felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, fleeing from a police officer causing the death of another person and to driving on a suspended or revoked license. However, he has not plead to the enhancement, explained Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Tim McInerny, who's prosecuting the case.

During the hearing Monday morning, the prosecution had witnesses present, including passenger Arturo Leon, who suffered a fractured vertebra.

McInerny said there was some consensus about testimony presented related to Leon's injuries with the defense agreeing that he suffered a fractured vertebra as a result of the accident.

Leon testified during the hearing and there was an agreement between the defense and the prosecution that if witnesses were called, a Valley Medical Center doctor that treated Leon would say whether he had performed a CT scan and detected the fractured vertebra.

Additional arguments and what McInerny called "legal wrangling" is expected to continue at 11 a.m. April 30 in department 30 of the Santa Clara County Courthouse in San Jose.

"We're just waiting for the judge to make some legal findings on whether or not that [Leon's fractured vertebra] is, in fact, great bodily injury or not. He's going to weigh the evidence," McInerny said.

The other passenger, Nicholas Chadbourne, suffered fractures on both his legs, but he's not part of the charges against Priolo, who's being held at the Santa Clara County Jail on $1 million bail.

McInerny said Priolo's license had been suspended as he was facing a DUI charge, which is "probably the reason he was fleeing from the police."

In an unrelated matter, Priolo has also plead no contest to solicitation of murder after authorities say investigations revealed that between March 24 and May 18, 2010, Priolo plotted with Daniel Chavez to kill a Santa Clara County assistant district attorney while in jail.

If convicted of all charges, McInerny said Priolo could face a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Sentencing for all the charges, including the solicitation of murder charge will be done together. Vega's family will have a chance to testify at that sentencing hearing, McInerny said.

The enhancement being sought won't add years to his jail term, but would change the amount of credit for time served that he could receive, McInerny added.

Priolo would have to serve 85 percent of his time in prison, as opposed to 50 percent, which would make the enhancement a serious or violent felony. "That's probably the reason he won't plea to it," McInerny said.

"Nothing is going to bring back their son," McInerny said when asked how the Vega family is doing.

McInerny claims Priolo was driving 150 mph in a 25 mph zone and had smoked marijuana the night of the accident. 

Attorney Robert Coppola, who's representing Priolo, has not returned phone calls seeking comment.

Jeffrey Bachman March 28, 2012 at 12:24 AM
A horrible tragedy. This type of behavior needs to be severely punished in my mind. To think that people will act so irresponsibly and expect to get away with it. A family is devastated, a town is in shock and fear and an overburden legal system now has to deal with more nonsense.
Brian Hickman March 28, 2012 at 09:16 PM
While a lot of these facts are shocking (150 mph in a 25mph zone, really?), the most shocking is that if convicted of everything, he would get a max of 15 years. Even then, he'll only have to serve half of it, or 85% of it. Plotting to kill the assistant DA while in jail, really? Do we really want to put this guy back on the streets, ever?
Cassie November 25, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Mr Hickmanand Mr Bachman, Have either of you say in the courtroom regarding this case? Have either of you heard Aarons father speak of this whole thing being an ACCIDENT? The plot to kill the DA being brought on him by child molster to get an early release? Please dig into the real facts not the falsehood you read by a reporter.

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