SAN JOSE — The driver who hit and killed avid cyclist Robert Lavin while he was on a routine ride last July has pleaded no contest to hit-and-run and manslaughter charges in exchange for a four-year prison sentence.
Anthony Trusso, 35, of San Jose, formally agreed to the negotiated plea Wednesday, and is scheduled for sentencing April 8. After accounting for time served and other credits — Trusso has been in jail since his July 5 arrest — he will serve about two years in prison, according to sentencing guidelines.
Deputy District Attorney Marina Mankaryous said the prison term is the maximum allowed for the convictions of felony hit-and-run causing injury or death, and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.
“It’s tragic whenever someone in the community loses their life because of another person’s negligence. We lost a husband, father and grandfather,” Mankaryous said. “The defendant was held accountable to the fullest extent given the circumstances of the case.”
Trusso had originally been charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, which would have carried a maximum 10-year prison sentence. But no evidence surfaced in the ensuing investigations to prove any impairment beyond a reasonable doubt.
Deputy Public Defender Daniel Portman said the plea agreement was a fair conclusion amid circumstances.
“This was a tragedy and Mr. Trusso feels great remorse for his role in it,” Portman said in a statement to this news organization. “The resolution of the case reflects the facts of this event as determined through investigation by both the defense and the prosecution.”
Lavin’s family declined to comment on the plea, citing the pending sentencing.
The 62-year-old Lavin, a retired tech worker who got in on the ground floor of Silicon Valley’s tech ascension, had set out for his daily bike ride the afternoon of July 5 when, barely a mile from his home in south Willow Glen, he was hit by a white Ford Focus on Curtner Avenue near Briarwood Drive.
The driver of the Ford, since identified as Trusso did not stop after the collision, and residents who heard the crash rushed to Lavin’s side. Their eyewitness accounts, combined with footage from nearby home-security cameras, gave San Jose police a lead to pursue. Trusso was arrested at his South San Jose home that night.
Lavin’s wife, Nani, worried that he had not come home as usual, discovered the scene by going to the site where his phone signal had stopped.
Not long after losing her partner of four decades, Nani Lavin and her family chose to honor his memory by shining a light on traffic safety issues that long preceded Robert Lavin’s death. Most recently, Nani Lavin appeared before the San Jose City Council to advocate for more funding for measures to reduce speeding and roadway deaths.
Robert Lavin was one of 60 people to die in a traffic collision in San Jose last year, which was one of the worst in decades for the city.
“I know this will not bring Bob back or the other 60 people back,” Nani Lavin said at the Feb. 11 council meeting, “but please help us.”