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Kent man pleads guilty to vehicular homicide in Panther Lake motorcyclist death

Motorcyclist David Daniel, 55, died Aug. 22 in this accident in Kent after a car driven by Justin Cordova struck him along Southeast 223rd Drive. Cordova pleaded guilty Tuesday to vehicular homicide. - COURTESY PHOTO
Motorcyclist David Daniel, 55, died Aug. 22 in this accident in Kent after a car driven by Justin Cordova struck him along Southeast 223rd Drive. Cordova pleaded guilty Tuesday to vehicular homicide.
— image credit: COURTESY PHOTO

A 19-year-old Kent man pleaded guilty Tuesday to vehicular homicide in connection with the death of a 55-year-old Kent motorcyclist Aug. 22 on a Panther Lake neighborhood street.

Justin Jerald Cordova is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 1 in Seattle before King County Superior Court Judge Carol Schapira, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. Cordova faces a sentencing range of 6 1/2 to 8 1/2 years under a new state law that took effect in June. The previous sentencing range was 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years.

Cordova remained Tuesday in the county jail at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.

David Daniel was riding his motorcycle at about 6:44 a.m. westbound in the 12100 block of Southeast 223rd Drive when a Nissan coupe driven eastbound by Cordova crossed the centerline and collided with the motorcycle. Daniel died at the scene. Daniel and Cordova lived just one-half mile from each other and a few blocks from the accident scene.

Prosecutors said Cordova had a blood-alcohol level of 0.12 percent and traveled at high speed. Witnesses reported that Cordova had been going an estimated 65 mph on Southeast 223rd Drive just prior to the accident. They described the car as going "freeway speed." The posted speed is 25 mph in the residential neighborhood.

Cordova, who was 18 at the date of the accident, told Kent Police officers that he had been drinking Red Bull and Jaegermeister at about 11 the previous night. He said he was going about 45 mph and didn't see the motorcycle. Cordova submitted to a portable breath test that indicated a blood-alcohol level of 0.12 percent, above the 0.02 level to cite a minor for a DUI and the 0.08 level for adults.

Cordova has prior convictions for third-degree assault and obstructing in 2010, according to charging papers. He also had an unspecified alcohol offense in 2011.

The death of Daniel increased the efforts by residents who live in the neighborhood to get the city to install a speed bump, traffic circle or other device to slow traffic down along Southeast 223rd Drive. City staff has met with neighbors and are working on a solution to help slow traffic along the street.

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