Man, 23, gets four years for 2011 Rockville hit-and-run fatal -- Gazette.Net



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A College Park man, 23, remembers drinking four of seven vodka drinks charged to his credit card the night his car slammed into a scooter, killing the operator, prosecutors said in court Friday.

Michael Charles Dalton Jr. was sentenced to four years in prison in Montgomery County Circuit Court on Friday, two months after pleading guilty to homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

Dalton’s credit card records indicate he ordered seven vodka drinks during a concert at the Fillmore Silver Spring music hall Sept. 21, according to court records. Dalton said in court that he recalls drinking four of the drinks. An analysis of blood taken 80 minutes after the collision determined his blood alcohol concentration as 0.21, above the state’s legal limit of 0.08, according to court records

The victim, Roberto Nassar, 30, of Gaithersburg was accelerating away from a stop light in the 800 block of Rockville Pike when his red 50cc TaoTao brand motor scooter was struck from behind by Dalton’s tan and silver Buick LeSabre about 1:26 a.m. Sept. 22, according to court documents.

Nassar was thrown from the scooter, which was dragged under the car as Dalton fled. Dalton had to be chased by county police before he was arrested about a mile away at Rockville Pike and West Edmonston Drive, the documents state. Nassar died in a hospital.

Dalton pleaded guilty March 1 to one count each of homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence and failing to stop at the scene of an accident involving death.

Members of Nassar’s and Dalton’s families attended the sentencing Friday and painted different portraits of Dalton to the judge.

Michael Charles Dalton Sr., Dalton’s father, pleaded with the judge to allow his son to serve as much of his sentence as possible at home with his family.

“I know that his suffering is not comparable to that of the victim’s family, but he has suffered a great deal and he is very remorseful,” Dalton Sr. said.

Melvin Cartagena, Nassar’s older brother, thanked Dalton’s family for their kind words, but rejected the notion that Dalton had learned his lesson, asking the judge to impose the maximum sentence.

“Everything I’ve seen here today, it shows me that he hasn’t taken any responsibility for his actions,” Cartagena said. “[Dalton] pleaded guilty only because he thought it would get him a lighter sentence.”

Dalton took the stand after more than two hours of testimony from attorneys and the families. He apologized to Nassar’s family and committed himself to stay from alcohol, no matter the sentence he received.

“My family has gone through a lot in the last few months, but I am sure the loss of a son, brother and uncle is much worse,” Dalton told Nassar’s family. “I cannot begin to imagine what this entire ordeal has been like for you.”

Dalton, who lives in College Park but is from Pennsylvania, likely will serve about three years of the total 13-year sentence because Judge Sharon V. Burrell withheld nine years to probation and gave Dalton credit for the nearly 200 days he has served on home confinement since his arrest.

Dalton’s attorney, Reginald W. Bours III, had asked the judge for an 18-month sentence in an effort to keep Dalton in the county jail. The county’s correctional facility offers more programs to help people with alcohol and other substance abuse problems like Dalton, Bours said after the sentencing.

“I was not just asking for a lesser sentence, I’m asking for a sentence that would allow [Dalton] to attend the programs I believe he could truly benefit from,” Bours said.

County Assistant State’s Attorney Christina Rodriguez, who prosecuted the case, declined comment after the hearing. Rodriguez originally recommended Dalton serve five years of a 15-year sentence.

jarias@gazette.net