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Driver pleads in hit-and-run that killed San Jose cyclist

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.

SAN JOSE, CA – JULY 10: A family photograph of Robert Lavin, 62, from April 2019 in Hawaii. Lavin was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding his bicycle on July 5, 2019. (Photograph courtesy of the Lavin family) 

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.

SAN JOSE, CA – JULY 10: Nani Lavin, wife of Robert Lavin who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding his bicycle on July 5th, speaks to The Mercury News at her home in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group) 

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.

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