Ex-con pleads guilty in hit-and-run death of young man
EL CAJON, Calif. — An ex-con who ran down a 20-year-old man walking home from work in Spring Valley pleaded guilty Friday to gross vehicular manslaughter and admitted an allegation that he left the scene.
Jason Michael Palmer, 34, will be sentenced to 30 years in state prison at a hearing Sept. 10 in El Cajon.
Palmer — who has misdemeanor DUI and hit-and-run convictions from 2000 – – pleaded guilty in connection with the accident last Oct. 27 that killed Jacob Greenwald.
Oscar Flores, a friend of the defendant, testified during a preliminary hearing last year that Palmer showed up at his Serra Mesa home more than six hours after the 3:45 a.m. collision, drinking a beer.
Flores testified that Palmer told him that he had done “something terrible.”
“He said, ‘I think I may have killed someone,”’ Flores told prosecutor Cally Bright.
“I told him, `You messed up,”’ and would be in more trouble for leaving the scene, Flores said, adding that he suspected Palmer was intoxicated at the time of the collision.
The witness said he told Palmer to turn himself in, but Palmer said he was scared and didn’t know what to do.
Palmer was eventually arrested at a home close to where Flores lived.
At Palmer’s arraignment, Bright said the defendant has been to prison three times — for attempted robbery, receiving stolen property and possessing a vehicle that didn’t belong to him — and was recently released from custody. He subsequently was released from a halfway house, according to the prosecutor.
Authorities said Greenwald was walking home on a sidewalk on Campo Road when he was struck by a Toyota 4Runner. The SUV’s front license plate was left behind, near the victim’s body.
The 4Runner — owned by Palmer’s grandfather — was located in Serra Mesa just before the defendant was arrested.