NORRISTOWN — A Collegeville man was sentenced to six to 23 months in the county jail on Monday for driving without a license following an accident that killed a pedestrian.
Clinton Wright, 24 of the first block of Third Street, will also be on probation for two years after he is released from the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. His prison term will start Feb. 12.
Wright initially entered into an open guilty plea which means he had no agreement with the district attorney’s office, but prosecutors and the public defender’s office were able to make a deal in the interim.
With tears in his eyes, Clinton said he can’t believe he was in this situation.
“I’m normally the person who helps everybody,” he told the court.
He said the only reason he drove that day was to help his mother with something. He said he has recently been working with a group of men to speak to younger people in Norristown to hope to show them a better life and to work hard to achieve their goals.
O’Neill said this is another opportunity for him to build character and gain credibility with the people he is trying to help.
“You’re exactly the kind of man who can be helpful,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill said he was prepared for a long sentencing hearing if a deal wasn’t made. The courtroom was full of Wright’s friends and family members ready to testify on his behalf. Because a deal was made, character testimony was not necessary and O’Neill announced in the beginning he would accept whatever plea agreement was made between the prosecution and defense. He did put on the record that he read several of the letters from Wright’s friends and family sent on his behalf.
The victim’s family was not in the courtroom on Monday.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, on May 8, 2013, East Norriton police responded to the 2200 block of Swede Road for a report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle. Police found a man later identified as Luis Rodriguez lying on the ground with extensive head trauma. He was flown to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for treatment.
Police determined that Wright was the driver of the vehicle that struck Rodriguez. Wright told police he had been driving when his daughter dropped her bottle in the back seat. He said he took his eyes off of the road to pick up the bottle and the next thing he knew, he hit Rodriguez.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, when Wright looked down he swerved into Rodriguez who was walking in the same direction as Wright was driving. A witness to the accident said she witnessed Wright swerve to the right where Rodriguez was walking. She told police Rodriguez was off to the side of the road and that he wasn’t walking close to the car when he was struck.
Investigators checked with the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles and found Wright had been driving under a suspended license. According to the affidavit of probable cause, Wright’s license was under suspension for one year beginning in August 2012.