GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado — A woman who struck and killed a Jesuit volunteer on a cross-country bicycling trip in western Colorado has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors.
Tonie Rosales, 30, of Palisade learned her punishment Friday after pleading guilty to vehicular homicide in 25-year-old Eunjey Cho's death. Prosecutors agreed to drop drug-possession and bail-violation charges against her.
The deal had allowed Rosales to be sentenced up to a maximum of 12 years in prison.
The Daily Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1pjda7A ) reports that Rosales had cocaine and antidepressants in her system when she fell asleep at the wheel and hit Cho on Sept. 18, 2013, on her way to a court hearing in a drunken-driving case. Cho later died at the hospital.
Cho was a volunteer with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest in Washington and was riding to his hometown of Princeton, New Jersey, with another volunteer, John McGuin, to raise money to pay for the work of two future volunteers. Volunteers are encouraged to live simply on about $100 a month, and they set out to raise $2,400.
Rosales refused roadside sobriety tests and fell asleep in the back of a patrol car on her way to get a blood test at a hospital. Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Hand told Judge Valerie Robison that when she was told that she had killed a man, Rosales cried but then quickly fell asleep again.
"She fell asleep again while signing her name on a document," he said.
Public defender Matt Mulch said Rosales is getting mental health treatment three times a week and called her a "work in progress."
Some of Cho's supporters noted that she had misspelled his name in her recent written statements to the court.
"If you take someone's life, you should try and spell their name correctly," friend Molly Geisler told the judge during the three-hour hearing.
Information from: The Daily Sentinel, http://www.gjsentinel.com