Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. FILE PHOTO

Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. FILE PHOTO

Man receives one month jail sentence in fatal Renton hit-and-run

2020 crash killed 16-year-old boy on motorcycle along Interstate 405; mother objects to plea deal

A King County Superior Court judge sentenced a 55-year-old Snohomish man on May 3 for the October 2020 collision death of a 16-year-old boy on Interstate 405 and State Route 167 in Renton.

David Larue Jones, 55, pleaded guilty on March 29 to a felony count of hit-and-run fatality and a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving.

Judge Kristin Ballinger sentenced Jones on May 3 to one month in King County jail and 11 months on electronic home detention. According to court documents, the court established findings for an exceptional sentence below the standard range of 10 to 12 years for the felony charge. The sentences for the felony and misdemeanor convictions will run concurrently.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, on Oct. 16, 2020, Jones was driving a white work van when he struck 16-year-old Jonah Espinosa, riding a dirt-bike style motorcycle, from behind on southbound Interstate 405. The impact of the collision embedded both the motorcycle and Jonah into the front of the van, with Jones continuing to drive for two miles — sparks flying — with the teenager and motorcycle wedged into the grill and front bumper.

After taking a curving exit ramp from Interstate 405 to Interstate 5, Jonah detached from the front of the van and landed face down on the roadway as Jones fled from the scene, according to documents. A semi-truck stopped to block traffic and drivers rushed to render aid to the teenager.

Medics declared Jonah dead as a result of catastrophic head trauma.

Jones continued to drive for three miles after leaving Jonah, with the motorcycle stuck in the front of his van, and parked at Tyee High School in SeaTac. After first dialing the number of a Snohomish drywall contractor, Jones called police, according to the affidavit.

Officers arrived to find Jones, waiting — blood splattered and sprayed on the van, and pooled across the front bumper, hood, and windshield, according to court documents. The motorcycle remained embedded upright in the van.

Jones stated to police that the collision occurred near the Family Fun Center in Tukwila, and that the motorcycle “had come out of nowhere.”

Jonah’s family members attended Jones’s sentencing hearing on May 3, in addition to Jones’s wife.

“On the early morning hours of October 16, 2020, you, Mr. Jones, took the life of my only son, Jonah Leshah Espinosa,” wrote Jonah’s mother in her victim impact statement to the court. “As a mother there are literally no words for this pain that will never go away. It’s an emptiness, a void, a hole in my heart that will never heal.”

Jonah’s mother stated she found the plea agreement between the prosecution and defense hard to accept.

“I feel Mr. Jones should at the very least receive the standard sentence of three to five years, if not the maximum of 10 years for the felony hit-and-run resulting in the fatality of my son, and the maximum 364 days for the misdemeanor charge of reckless driving,” Jonah’s mother stated. “If the standard sentence for this crime cannot be met, I please ask that the sentence under the plea agreement be for 364 days in county jail for the felony conviction with no work release, home detention, or time off for good behavior, as well as the full 364 days to be served consecutively for the misdemeanor conviction.”

The court further ordered that Jones not drive without a valid license and insurance, have no further criminal law or moving violations, and have no contact with Jonah’s family.

“You chose to commit a horrific crime by leaving my son to die alone,” Jonah’s mother wrote. “I will never forgive you for that.”


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