Scott Marks 4:19 p.m., June 19
Hit-and-run driver gets 2 years State prison
Korean immigrant ran over bicyclist in Rancho Santa Fe
A Korean immigrant was sentenced to 2 years in prison today, for a hit-and-run collision in which he killed an 18-year-old bicyclist, last summer.
Jin Hyuk Byun was 19 years old when he drove his black pickup truck into Angel Bojorquez, who was walking his bicycle up a hill on Via De La Valle, on his way home from his job as a grocery clerk in Del Mar. The teen’s dead body was found at the side of a road, still wearing a reflective vest, by a private security person in Rancho Santa Fe, the early morning hours of July 6, 2012.
A resident of Del Mar saw a television news story about the incident two days later, and he contacted authorities about a damaged truck that he saw parked next door. California Highway Patrol officers immediately investigated and arrested Byun within hours.
Jin Hyuk Byun pleaded guilty to hit-and-run causing fatality in October 2012.
This afternoon, February 13 2013, every seat was taken in the courtroom of Judge Michael Kirkman, in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse, to hear the sentencing.
The defendant’s father, Moon Joo Byun, wept and whispered as he spoke to the court, with the assistance of a Korean interpreter. The elder Byun said that Jin Hyuk Byun was his “first son” and that he has two other sons, and “I try to teach them good attitude and character.” He wept when he said, “Today I am standing here as the father of a criminal” and “I am here with great shame and guilt.” He offered apology and regret to the family of the deceased teen, who filled half the courtroom.
The defendant also wept when he spoke to the court, saying “I am deeply deeply sorry for my actions.” His defense attorney, Charles Quirk, asked the judge to notice that if a prison sentence was ordered, it would probably result in Jin’s deportation. The defendant immigrated to the U.S.A. in 2007, and has already had some trouble in Riverside County as a juvenile which resulted in a “diversion,” according to his attorneys.
The brother and cousins of the teen who was killed also spoke to the court. They were unmoved by the Byuns' apologies and asked for the maximum sentence. Steve Bojorquez said “I think it’s ridiculous” that the maximum possible sentence for the crime was “four years for my brother’s life!” Cousin Yuridia Bojorquez wanted the defendant to know that “When I was younger I ran over a bunny” and that she stopped, and took the injured bunny to the side of the road.
The Bojorquez family was incredulous and outraged that Jin Hyuk Byun first told investigators that he thought he might have run over a mailbox or a dog.
Prosecutor Aimee McLeod told the court that Jin Hyuk Byun was smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol the afternoon that investigators came to his home and asked to look at his truck.
Honorable Michael Kirkman said “Probation is not appropriate” and “this is a state prison matter” before he ordered a 2-year-prison term. “Clearly the defendant knew he struck a human being.” The defendant already has 441 days custody credits, the court noticed.
Defense attorney Charles Quirk said that there is a civil lawsuit pending, which he expected would settle.