A Cloverdale 17-year-old who killed an elderly man in a hit-and-run crash will appear in juvenile court Wednesday to reveal his plans to atone for his crime.
Mitch Carlson admitted a charge of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in the Dec. 27 death of Miguel Sanchez, 83, also of Cloverdale, whom he struck with his pickup while Sanchez was crossing a street.
A judge gave him probation and suspension of driving privileges as part of his punishment. But he also was ordered to do "restorative justice" — a jail alternative that could involve completing tasks for the victim's family.
At a previous hearing, Judge Raima Ballinger suggested Carlson might take over the victim's routine of picking up his neighbors' newspapers, tending gardens and mowing lawns.
"If the victim was doing things for the community like helping neighbors, they might try to tailor the plan to that," said Murat Ozgur, a special prosecutor from the Marin District Attorney's Office who handled the case.
Ozgur said Friday whatever Carlson does will have to be agreed upon by the victim's family and the court.
Also on Wednesday, probation officials will report on Carlson's progress in meeting other terms of his punishment including attending classes at Cloverdale High and abiding by a 9 p.m. curfew.
With the successful completion of probation, which could take one to three years, the criminal case against him will be dismissed, Ozgur said.
Carlson hit Sanchez on North Main Street Christmas week and then drove on to morning basketball practice at the high school.
Witnesses described his truck and police arrested Carlson later that morning. He told officers he left the scene because he was scared.
As Sanchez lay mortally injured in a hospital, prosecutors charged Carlson with hit-and-run and the case was promptly settled.
Sanchez died a few days later on Dec. 31.
Sanchez family members criticized the quick settlement and complained they were not notified of hearings as required under Marsy's Law. Also, they said prosecutors failed to check on the condition of their father before deciding the charge.
The case was actually prosecuted in part by Bud McMahon, a deputy and political ally of incoming District Attorney Jill Ravitch, who took office Jan. 3.
After acknowledging a miscommunication, Ravitch recused her office and called for an independent investigation. The case was assigned to the Marin District Attorney, who brought additional vehicular manslaughter charges against Carlson.
On Feb. 9, citing Carlson's youth and lack of a record, Ballinger ordered Carlson to be placed on probation and to complete a restorative justice-type program to repay the family for their losses.
You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.