A Mitchell woman who pleaded guilty to a hit-and-run incident that left a man with life-threatening injuries avoided prison time during her Tuesday sentencing hearing.
Brittany Price, 33, was sentenced to serve two years of probation for the hit-and-run that took place on March 10 on the west side of Mitchell near Dick’s Body Shop, which left Michael Martinez, 25, of Mitchell, with serious life-threatening injuries.
Judge Chris Giles pointed to the investigation reports that he said showed the hit-and-run was an “accident” and not “intentional” as a factor in deciding to suspend a two-year prison stint as part of her sentencing. For the hit-and-run, which is a class six felony, Price faced a maximum punishment of two years in prison and a $4,000 fine.
“After reading the pre-sentence report, I do think you were honest with law enforcement about what took place,” Giles said. “From my perspective, this was very confusing, and it didn’t look very good for you. You need to continue making some changes.”
While Martinez -- who was Price’s boyfriend at the time -- was found laying in “pools of blood” along a ditch after he was struck by Price, Giles said he learned Martinez reported to law enforcement that he felt the hit-and-run was “truly an accident.”
The investigation began several hours after Price struck Martinez when Davison County Sheriffs located a shirtless and pant-less Martinez lying in a ditch. Upon officers arriving at the scene, Martinez appeared to be surrounded in “pools of blood” in the ditch. Martinez was transported to Avera Queen of Peace hospital and later airlifted to Sioux Falls with life-threatening injuries. The Department of Criminal Investigation and South Dakota Highway Patrol led the investigation.
During the investigation, Price admitted she “hit something,” which led her to stop the vehicle and survey the area. However, she claimed she did “not see anything,” according to police investigation reports. Price told authorities that Martinez left the vehicle when she went into a home along West Havens Avenue to purchase marijuana around midnight on March 10.
After she returned to her 2007 Dodge Charger vehicle and Martinez was no longer inside, Price said she began searching for him in her car along 254th Avenue and struck Martinez. She later claimed to have called and texted Martinez while she was searching for him in the early morning hours of March 10, according to police reports. Following the hit-and-run, Price made no attempts to contact authorities and report the incident.
When authorities visited Martinez’s home to continue investigating the incident, a damaged black Dodge Charger was parked in front of the house. The vehicle reportedly had a cracked windshield and dents on the front passenger side, according to court documents.
As authorities scoped out the car, they found remnants of what appeared to be an individual’s hair in the cracks of the circular-shaped windshield break, matching the type of damage that would result from a hit-and-run with another person.