The Lassen County District Attorney’s Office and Juan Ruiz Esqueda, the 62 year-old Susanville man who allegedly struck and killed 16-year-old Kolby Trumbull on Johnstonville Road on Oct. 11, 2017, agreed to a plea bargain Wednesday, June 27.
According to the deal, Esqueda pleaded guilty to driving with a suspended or revoked license and pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge.
As part of the plea bargain, the district attorney’s office dismissed a charge of hit and run with permanent injury and defense attorney Autumn Paine agreed to withdraw a motion she filed seeking to recuse the district attorney’s office in the case.
As part of the bargain, Esqueda faces a maximum penalty of 365 days in jail, and a maximum penalty
of six months on the suspended license charge to be served concurrently with the misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge. Manslaughter is the killing of a human being without malice.
Esqueda also will be assessed the appropriate fines and fees when he is sentenced at 1 p.m. Aug. 20 in Lassen County Superior Court Department 3. He will surrender himself into custody on that date as well.
Candace Beason, a visiting Lassen County Superior Court judge, asked deputy district attorney Stephanie Skeen why the people were making the plea bargain at this time.
Beason had already granted a change of venue motion from the defense due to pretrial publicity in the case, and a two-week trial had been scheduled to
begin July 9 in Placer County.
Skeen said the district attorney’s office had discussed the possible disposition of the case with Trumbull’s family, and they wanted closure since this case has gone for nearly two years. She said this agreement would allow them to move on.
Beason also noted there was no finding of fault (that Esqueda caused Trumbull’s death) at the preliminary hearing and a felony vehicular manslaughter charge was dismissed at that time.
Despite that lack of finding at the preliminary hearing, the defense agreed to plead no contest to that charge.