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Vehicular homicide suspect turns himself in

OKANOGAN — An Omak man faces a vehicular homicide charge for the 2009 death of Raymond T. Chico-Sanchez in a vehicle crash on state Highway 155 south of Omak.

William Joseph Bessette, 30, turned himself in and was arrested April 29 after an amended criminal summons was issued April 1. He was released the same day.

He was charged in February with vehicular homicide and hit and run fatality accident in Chico-Sanchez’s Sept. 6, 2009, death.

“After the collision occurred, Bessette fled the scene on foot, leaving his passenger at the scene to die,” a report from detective Daniel Dale of the Washington State Patrol said.

The report accompanied charging documents filed in court.

The maximum penalty for vehicular homicide is life in prison. The maximum for hit and run fatality accident is 10 years in prison, plus fines.

Olympia resident Chico-Sanchez, 22, was a passenger in a flatbed pickup truck, equipped with firefighting equipment, that went off the road and flipped over two miles southeast of town, the Washington State Patrol said at the time.

Chico-Sanchez was ejected from the vehicle. He was taken to Mid-Valley Hospital, Omak, where he died.

Patrol detectives put out a call for witnesses or people with information on the driver, The Chronicle reported at the time.

“After the collision occurred, the driver, who was later identified as William J. Bessette, fled the scene on foot,” Dale’s report said.

Investigation revealed that Chris and Laura Harp were northbound on the highway and had been passed by the pickup truck, which was going at a high rate of speed. They lost sight of the truck, but then came upon the crash.

A man, later identified as Bessette, was walking on the roadway toward them.

“Chris Harp was able to identify Bessette from a photo montage and stated that they observed Bessette run up the embankment to the east and away from the scene as they arrived,” Dale’s report said.

A search for the driver proved unsuccessful.

“It was later learned that Bessette had walked barefoot to a residence near the collision scene,” the report said.

Resident Sandra Cheer told investigators Bessette showed up wearing only his underwear. He was intoxicated and asked for a ride into Omak, the report said. She took him to town and dropped him along the road.

Investigators also contacted Dianna Farrens of Omak, at whose house the pickup’s registered owner had left the vehicle.

She had given the keys to someone claiming to be Chad Monaghan, who said he had permission to take the vehicle, the report said.

“Farrens would later identify William Bessette as the person claiming to be Monaghan,” the report said.

The owner later signed a theft report, claiming Bessette did not have permission to take the vehicle. The owner was not identified in Dale’s report.

Investigators contacted Bessette in Omak, although they believed they were looking for Monaghan. A wallet containing Bessette’s identification was located in the wrecked vehicle; it had the same address as Monaghan’s.

“Bessette was freshly showered and had a strong odor of intoxicants on his breath. Bessette had blood on his person that had dropped onto his jockey shorts and a fresh bruise on his back,” Dale’s report said.

He admitted being in the vehicle earlier, but denied being in it at the time of the collision, court records show.

“Chad Monaghan was also contacted the night of the collision and it was determined he was not involved in the collision,” Dale’s report said.

A search warrant was served on Bessette on Nov. 18, 2009, and his DNA and a hair sample were seized. They were submitted to the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory, along with flip-flop sandals found at the crash site and a strand of hair located in the shattered windshield.

Additional trace evidence comparisons were requested between the right flip-flop and a friction mark on the vehicle’s brake pedal.

DNA results were obtained almost a year later and linked Bessette to the flip-flops. Results were inconclusive for the hair strand.

“The tread pattern on the bottom of the right flip-flop sandal was similar to the friction mark on the surface of the brake pedal pad, thus providing evidence that William Bessette was the driver” at the time of the crash, the report said.

Bessette’s decision to operate a vehicle under the influence of intoxicants and/or drugs and drive in a reckless manner or a manner that disregarded the safety of others “was the causal factor in this collision,” and his failure to operate the vehicle within the lane of travel was the proximate cause, the report said.

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