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No Felony Charge In Death Of Off-Duty Officer

POSTED May 27, 2014 5:08 p.m.

After the end of a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, May 20, Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Ricardo Cordova determined there was not enough evidence for Jose Hermosillo to stand trial for a felony count of manslaughter in the November 2012 death of off-duty Oakdale Police Officer Paul Katuszonek.

Hermosillo was the truck driver charged with felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence in the crash when slammed into the back of Katuszonek’s Honda just after he had stopped at a Caltrans construction zone on Highway 132 near Faust Road.

The CHP investigation showed Hermosillo had been driving for nearly 23 hours with only a four hour rest break when the big rig travelling at 55 mph crashed into the back of Katuszonek’s car, killing him instantly.

The investigation also showed that Hermosillo falsified his driver’s logs to make it appear as though his behind the wheel driving time complied with the law. Records obtained from the GPS system on the Gold Star truck proved that Hermosillo was actually driving in excess of allowable hours, even though Hermosillo reported that he was resting or off duty.

After the hearing Hermosillo pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and for driving more hours than allowed under federal guidelines.

Hermosillo was released from custody after the hearing. He has been in county jail since he was booked Nov. 22. He is due back in court in July for sentencing.

With the misdemeanor plea, Hermosillo is expected to receive only a six month sentence for the charges. Since he has spent that time already in custody, he is not expected to go back to jail.

Last November, Gold Star Foods Inc., a food distribution and long haul trucking company based in Ontario, CA, agreed to pay $8.5 million to Katuszonek’s family to settle claims that its truck driver employee caused his death.

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