Pleasanton Weekly

News - April 25, 2014

Driver takes plea deal for fatal crash

Pleasanton teen pleads no contest to manslaughter for cyclist's death

by Jeremy Walsh

A Pleasanton teen has accepted a plea deal in the criminal case stemming from a high-speed crash on Foothill Road that killed a Dublin bicyclist last June.

Cody Matthew Hall pleaded no contest April 17 to felony vehicular manslaughter in connection with the death of cyclist Diana Hersevoort. Hall, 19, also admitted a special allegation of causing great bodily injury to Hersevoort's husband, Joe, during the afternoon crash June 9 near Golden Eagle Way.

Authorities allege Hall was speeding at more than 80 mph and trying to pass another vehicle across double-yellow lines before losing control of his car and striking the couple, who were out for a traditional weekend bike ride.

Diana Hersevoort, 58, was pronounced dead at the scene. Joe Hersevoort suffered a broken leg in the crash.

Wearing a yellow jail uniform, Hall was wiping tears from his eyes and rubbing his face as he sat at the defense table waiting for the court proceedings to begin last Thursday.

Hall had faced a murder charge for Diana Hersevoort's death, and he was set to complete a preliminary hearing in the case last Thursday afternoon, before agreeing to the plea deal.

"This is what you want to do?" Judge Joseph Hurley asked Hall while reviewing the proposed agreement in Alameda County Superior Court in Pleasanton.

The teen defendant answered with, "Yeah."

Members of the Hersevoort family, as well as relatives and supporters of Hall, were in the courtroom last Thursday afternoon, and some sobbed as the judge accepted the teen's no contest plea and found him guilty of manslaughter.

The prosecution and defense agreed to a prison sentence of nine years — the upper term of six years for the manslaughter count and three more years for the injury allegation. The murder count, along with a count of reckless driving causing serious injury, were dismissed as a result of the agreement.

Hall's sentencing is scheduled for May 30, at which time a judge would decide whether to approve the agreed-upon prison term. The case has been forwarded to the Alameda County Probation Department for a pre-sentencing report and recommendation.

Prosecutor Sharon Carney and Hall's attorney, Timothy Rien, each declined to comment following the proceedings.

Investigators said Hall's 2004 Dodge Neon was traveling at 83 mph, more than twice the posted speed limit of 40 mph, on June 9 when he tried to pass another vehicle using a two-way, left-turn lane. He reportedly lost control while attempting to get back in his lane, causing the sedan to hit both Hersevoorts before striking a pole.

Authorities originally charged Hall with vehicular manslaughter in late July, but the charge was upped to murder on Aug. 14.

The prosecution alleged the teen had a documented history of excessive speeding and boasted about his high-speed drives on social media, including one post in which he reportedly claimed to be driving 140 mph on Interstate 5 and said, "I can't control myself."

Hall's preliminary hearing began on April 2 with several prosecution witnesses testifying. The hearing was then postponed for more than two weeks, and it was scheduled to continue last Thursday afternoon.

The Foothill High graduate remains in custody at the county jail, where he has been housed since being charged with murder in mid-August.

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