Man pleads guilty in Reno crash that killed mother, infant
RENO One of the first motorists to be charged in Nevada under a new state law concerning marijuana use has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a fatal July 2000 crash in Reno.
Robert McKellips, 23, pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of having marijuana in his system when he ran a red light and crashed into a car, killing a woman and her 5-month-old child.
“He has decided to accept responsibility for what he did,” his lawyer, Scott Freeman, said after the hearing in Washoe County District Court.
Sentencing was set for Feb. 25. Each of the two counts carry a maximum sentence of 20 years and a fine of $10,000.
Myra Ledezma-Martinez, 17, and her infant, Jennifer, were killed in the accident on Neil Road and McCarran Boulevard. The woman’s husband, Luis Miguel Ledezma, was injured.
The law passed in 1999 made it illegal to drive with a specified amount of certain drugs. The law does not require authorities to prove that the driver was under the influence.
McKellips acknowledged that he had smoked marijuana, but claimed he had done so the day before the crash.
Tests showed he had 3 nanograms of marijuana’s active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and 13 nanograms of a marijuana metabolite in his system, prosecutors said.
The legal limit is 2 nanograms of THC and 5 nanograms of the metabolite.
Deputy District Attorney Roy Stralla said the plea “was a good resolution to the case … He (McKellips) made a huge mistake and will have to live with the consequences for the rest of his life.”
McKellips was driving with a suspended license when he hit the family as they drove home from a shopping trip.
He was convicted as a juvenile of driving under the influence of alcohol in 1998. It was his first DUI offense.