A plea deal is expected to end a 2 ½-year-old deadly Bend hit-and-run case with a guilty plea – but not to criminally negligent homicide -- leaving the victim’s family without closure and feeling robbed of justice, their lawyer said Friday.
Bret Biedscheid, 40, is expected to plead guilty June 11 to failure to perform the duties of a driver for leaving the scene of a January 2011 crash in which the former Les Schwab corporate executive struck and killed Anthony Martin, 48, as he crossed NE Third Street just north of Revere Avenue.
Court documents filed this week show Biedscheid has agreed to the guilty plea for that charge, in exchange for prosecutors dropping the homicide charge.
Surveillance video from January 2011 showed Biedscheid tap his brakes as his pickup slammed into Martin, who was walking his bike across Third Street. He didn’t stop to see if the man he struck was okay.
“How could someone just drive off?” Sarah Nelson, Martin’s girlfriend and the mother of their now-3-year-old daughter, Sadie, asked weeks later. “How could someone just hit another human being, and then just drive away?”
Days after the crash, Biedscheid got a high-profile Portland attorney, Stephen Houze, who told him to turn himself and his damaged truck in to police. The director of accounting for Les Schwab Tire Centers was booked briefly into the Deschutes County Jail and released on $250,000 bail.
Now a civil case is the only hope Martin’s family has to see justice. He left behind three daughters and a sister, who later filed a wrongful death lawsuit, seeking $705,000 in damages.
“At the end of this, I’d like to see justice,” Teresa Gibbs, Martin’s sister, said at the time.
Civil case investigators interviewed bartenders at the former Black Horse Saloon in Bend, where Biedscheid had been drinking that night.
“Whiskey was mentioned, beer was mentioned,” attorney Tom D’Amore told NewsChannel 21 by phone Friday. “She (the bartender) also mentioned she felt he was intoxicated, and he even told her he wasn’t going to drive.”
But because police didn’t know who was behind the wheel until Biedscheid came forward, he wasn’t charged with DUII.
D’Amore said Martin’s family only felt justice could be served by going to trial – and with the plea deal, the man who killed their brother and father will bypass a homicide charge.
“They just don’t feel like the criminal case should end without criminally negligent homicide being charged,” D’Amore said. “It sounds like the rich guy with connections sort of has been able to delay, and potentially get off.”
Biedscheid is due for sentencing June 11th, the day his trial was set to begin. Prosecutors are asking for a 16-month prison sentence, but the judge gets the final say.
A day earlier, Martin’s sister and her attorney say, they will be announcing a proposed settlement amount for the civil case.