Hawkyard sentenced to one year in vehicular manslaughter case | TheUnion.com

Hawkyard sentenced to one year in vehicular manslaughter case

A man who caused a crash that killed his passenger in December 2013 was sentenced to one year in county jail and three years probation Monday; he also will lose his driving license for three years.

William Robert Hawkyard was 18 at the time of the crash on Dec. 3, 2013, in which he was speeding while driving a soft-top sedan, lost control as he entered a 35 mph curve and went off the edge of the road, striking several objects, including a utility pole.

The car then overturned and rotated back across the roadway, causing major damage to its roof. Hawkyard’s passenger, Dakota Smith, sustained major head injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Hawkyard pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter in August.

Nevada County Superior Court Judge Candace Heidelberger told Hawkyard she had reservations about accepting the plea agreement, adding that she saw a possible pattern of reckless driving.

Several of Smith’s relatives spoke at the sentencing hearing Monday, including his stepfather and grandmother.

They described Smith as their right-hand man, a loving young man who was always there for anyone in need, who was taken away from them because of Hawkyard’s carelessness.

Hawkyard’s attorney, Larry Montgomery, commented that the offense could have been charged as a misdemeanor and that the fatal wreck was caused by a combination of “driving stupidly” and the condition of the sedan, which had a bad tire.

Montgomery also noted that in Hawkyard’s interview with the probation department for his pre-sentencing report, he said that he has to wake up every day with the knowledge that he killed his friend, and that he wanted Smith’s family to know how sorry he was.

“Nothing I do is going to bring Dakota back,” Heidelberger told his family. She told Hawkyard she remained concerned about him taking his driving issues seriously, and warned him that if he violates probation he will face significant prison time.

In addition to the jail sentence, Heidelberger also imposed enrollment in a moral reconation program, which is a cognitive-behavioral treatment system.

Memorial Park assailant sentenced

A Grass Valley man with a reported history of violence, who was arrested in October 2014 after attacking a man at Memorial Park, was sentenced Monday to six years in state prison.

Fernando Luis Rodriguez reportedly had been behaving strangely in front of a group that included children. When a woman in the group asked Rodriguez to rein in his behavior, he reportedly began yelling vulgarities and racist comments, then started kicking and punching her car. Rodriguez allegedly then walked up to a man who also was part of the group and hit him in the face with a can, causing multiple fractures to the man’s face.

He also was facing charges of assault and battery causing serious injury for a June 2014 arrest; those cases were consolidated.

Rodriguez pleaded no contest to two counts of battery causing serious bodily injury — both of which were strike offenses — and admission of a prior strike offense, in return for a six-year prison sentence.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.

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