A truck driver was given a one-year suspended jail sentence and placed on three years of informal probation after being convicted by a Placer County Superior Court jury of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence in the death of a bicyclist in Lincoln.
Gaspar Reyes, 44, of Lincoln was found guilty of the misdemeanor charge Thursday after jurors looked at grainy video photos from an automated teller machine that show his 78,000-pound big rig apparently failing to halt at a stop sign as it made a right turn at an intersection on June 28, 2007.
A bicyclist, Kathy Marie Gienger, 45, owner of Lincoln Day Spa, was killed as she rode in the crosswalk in front of the dirt-hauling truck at Joiner Parkway and Stanmark Drive at 7:28 a.m..
There were no witnesses to the accident, and the ATM photos do not show the impact between the bike rider and the truck. However, it shows the truck stopping moments after the accident and the driver getting out of the truck.
Placer County Deputy District Attorney Dan Wesp said Reyes told police in two separate interviews that he stopped at the stop sign, ‘but the video evidence indicated that he did not.’
Reyes’ attorney tried to establish that his client committed no crime and called the death an accident.
He told the jury in his opening statement that his client did not see the bike rider because drivers of big rig trucks sit high up in the truck and have low visibility directly below them.
The ATM video from a nearby Safe Credit Union building was the key evidence in the prosecution. The camera takes shots at one-second intervals. The continuous photos show Reyes’ truck moving north on Stanmark Drive and apparently not stopping at the sign as it makes a right onto Joiner Parkway.
In contrast, photos show a van stopping at the same intersection and the same direction of travel at about 7 a.m. that day. The van remains virtually in the same position for three to four clicks of the video camera, Wesp said.
Placer County Superior Court Judge Larry D. Gaddis sentenced Reyes immediately after the verdict.
In addition to the suspended jail sentence and the probation, Gaddis imposed a $300 fine and 100 hours of community service in which the defendant must talk to high school students about the responsibility of being a safe driver.