FAIRBANKS — A Fairbanks man pleaded guilty Thursday to causing the death of teenage bicyclist and injuring her friend when he ran a red light last year.
Under the terms of a plea deal, Fred Karella, 56, can be sentenced to a jail term of no more than 3 1/2 years for criminally negligent homicide and felony assault.
Superior Court Judge Doug Blankenship will decide whether to accept the plea deal at an Aug. 18 sentencing hearing.
Before the sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Scott Mattern reviewed the details of the accident that led to the death of 14-year-old Kirsten Shaye Tompkins on July 28, 2010, at a site now marked by a white memorial bike on the corner of the Johansen Expressway and the Steese Highway.
Karella had a light warning of the approaching red light two-tenths of a mile before the intersection, but must have not seen it or ignored it, Mattern said.
The Ford F-150 truck he was driving hit Tompkins at the intersection; she died at the scene. A friend of Tompkins was hit by the truck’s rear view mirror and was hospitalized but later released.
At one point in the proceeding, Judge Blankenship asked Mattern if Karella was speeding.
Mattern said Karella was going fast enough to throw Tompkins 259 feet from the intersection, but said he was guilty regardless of his speed.
“Arguably, the speed for a person facing a red light is zero."he said.
Before the accident, Karella had no criminal history, but had multiple traffic citations for speeding and failure to wear a seatbelt.
Karella is not currently in custody. He pleaded guilty in-person at the hearing. He is being represented by attorney Steve Elliott.
Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545.