Re: [messengers] Santa Cruz fatal hit-and-run defendant pleads not guilty

Date: 23 Jun 2011 03:55:31 +0200
From: rick@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Quoting Fhar Miess <fhartha@xxxxxxxxx>:

And I just discovered that the father of a former co-worker of mine (at a messenger collective) is acting as the attorney for this schmuck (no offense to all you schmucks out there). She says that she thought he wasn't even trying cases anymore. If he came out of "retirement" to defend this kid, that's just sad. Santa Cruz is an effed-up place. Solidarity is harder to find there all the time, least of all among cyclists, from what I can tell. Glad I got out of there.

I do hope friends of Zack will be able to get their side of the story out, but, knowing that paper, I doubt it will happen in that venue.


On Jun 22, 2011, at 3:47 PM, Kevin Stewart wrote:

Wait, "He's very remorseful. He feels horrible," but is pleading NOT
guilty??!! What? How is this possible?

Oh and he " rode mountain bike trails at the Forest of Nisene Marks
State Park." What ever happened to solidarity between cyclists? Now
you can just run them down, and feel bad about it, but plead not
guilty... wow.

Friends of Zachary, I'm sorry for your loss,  I hope you all plan on
filling the courtroom and making statements as well so the next story
can show the victims side, instead of the person who committed the


On Tue, Jun 21, 2011 at 9:05 PM, Joe Hendry <messvilleto@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Santa Cruz
fatal hit-and-run defendant pleads not guilty

By Stephen Baxter

Santa Cruz
Sentinel, June 21, 2011

- Elliott Dess, the 21-year-old driver accused of hitting cyclist Zachary Parke
on Empire Grade Road on June 8, pleaded not guilty today to charges that
included felony vehicular manslaughter and felony hit-and-run.

Dess appeared in court in orange jail clothes, shackled,
head bowed, and Judge Paul Burdick kept Dess' bail set at $100,000. He posted bail Tuesday afternoon. Dess waived his right to speedy trial and is due back
in court July 18.

Gerald Christensen, Dess' attorney, said Dess had no
criminal record and did not pose a flight risk because he has always lived in Santa Cruz and has family and friends here. More than 25 friends and family appeared in court to support

Dess also was charged with a special allegation of leaving
the scene of a fatal crime. He faces more than 10 years in prison if found

"I know there's been community outrage," said

Outside court Christensen said he was disappointed with the
judge's decision not to lower the bail amount or release Dess on his own

"My client will most certainly appear (in court). He's
generally a decent young guy," Christensen said. "He will face up to
this tragic situation."

Dess, who has shaved blond hair, stood still with his head
down gazing at the floor for much of the hearing.

Prosecutor Jason Gill argued against Dess' release, offering
new details in the prosecution's sequence of events after the crash.

Just after midnight on June 8, Dess drove a 1998 Nissan
Maxima south on Empire Grade Road and collided with Zachary Parke, who was
cycling downhill from a friend's home at UC Santa Cruz, the CHP reported.

Gill said in court that Dess did not stop at the crash
scene, and there was no evidence of skid marks on the road. Gill said Dess
"had the opportunity to do the right thing and call 911" to try to
save Parke's life.

Instead, Gill said, Dess pulled over near the UCSC Arboretum
on Empire Grade

Gill said Dess then left his mangled car parked on the
Westside of Santa Cruz in an attempt to "conceal and abandon it."

The car was impounded that day, and authorities contacted
Dess about 16 to 18 hours after the crash, Gill said. At that point, Dess lied
to investigators and said he was driving on Highway 1 and hit a deer, Gill

"Instead of doing the responsible thing, he flees the
scene, conceals evidence and lies to police," Gill said in court.

Zachary Parke's body was found by a passing cyclist about 8
a.m. the day of the crash.

April Parke, Zachary Parke's mother, cried through parts of
the hearing.

Elizabeth Parke, Zachary's 32-year-old sister, abruptly left
the courtroom at one point but returned. In an uncommon legal move, April Parke
made a statement to Judge Burdick before his ruling on Dess's bail.

"I heard the (defense) lawyer say (Dess) was a caring
man. I find that hard to believe.

How can a caring person hit someone and leave him on the
side of the road for eight hours?" April Parke asked.

Dess' friends and family said Dess is a decent person who
made a big mistake and panicked.

"He's very remorseful. He feels horrible," Ruth
Garland, a friend of the Dess family who also knew Zachary Parke, 25, from rock
climbing activities, said after court.

"It was a horrible tragedy. Elliott panicked," Garland said.

said Dess and Zachary Parke did not know each other. She said the crash has
been doubly painful for her because of her ties to the victim and suspect.

"It's been the worst thing I've had to deal with in my
life," Garland

Dess's father declined to comment outside court.

Jasper Garland,
20, said Dess is his best friend.

Outside court, he described Dess as a moral and caring

Dess attended Santa
 Cruz Community School, an alternative school for
adolescent males in grades 7 to 10. He was working at an auto parts warehouse.

Jasper Garland
said he and Dess often played Frisbee golf in their spare time. They worked on cars and rode mountain bike trails at the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park.

"I pray that whenever he gets out, he stays the same
person so I can hang out with him," Jasper Garland said.

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We had a ride to honor Zach and to show solidarity within the Santa Cruz cycling community on Saturday. It was a beautiful event with almost 150 riders participating.

Richard Graves
Clutch Couriers