The man who was arrested in the hit-and-run crash that critically injured a 4-year-old boy in St. Paul pleaded guilty to two felony counts of criminal vehicular operation on Tuesday.
Ernest Jonas, 25, will be sentenced on Aug. 6. He is currently in jail on $75,000 bond.
The plea deal came as a surprise. Although the victim's family said they are happy Jonas is "taking responsibility for his actions," they were not pleased about the potential sentence he now faces.
"He could have killed my nephew. We could be planning a funeral right now," said Gloria Phillips, Tyrell Baymon's aunt. "I think he deserves some jail time."
Now that Jonas pleaded guilty to one count for driving his sport bike recklessly and another count of fleeing the scene of an accident, there will be no trial -- but because he has no previous felony convictions on his record, the sentencing guidelines suggest he should receive a stayed 18-month prison sentence.
Essentially, this means that Jonas may end up with a year and a half of probation -- and could conceivably get back on the roads.
"As a parent, I can imagine how they're feeling -- and being frustrated with the system," said John Choi, Ramsey County Attorney.
Chio is the lead prosecutor for the county, and he says a through pre-sentencing report will be conducted -- including a review of Jonas' driving record prior to moving to Minnesota a few years ago.
"I hope prosecutors do their job and find some way he can do jail time -- that he doesn't just get off with probation because that would be unfair to us," Phillips said.
Yet, sentencing is up to a judge alone -- who could consider other factors like Jonas' record of speeding and operating a vehicle after license revocation. Considering the circumstances, it is possible that Jonas could be released on his sentencing date with time served.
Baymon, who was on the way to his birthday party at the time of the crash, just began rehabilitation on Monday. He suffered head and brain trauma, and cannot speak yet; however, he can eat solid food once again and his family says the boy's recovery impresses his caregivers.
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