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Driver who hit and killed man crossing Gresham-Fairview Trail gets two years in prison

Posted by on April 30th, 2018 at 5:21 pm

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s office announced a 24-month prison sentence to the man who killed 21-year-old Robert Esparza in 2016.

According to a statement released this afternoon, 75-year-old Alex Jacoby was driving his Corvette nearly 80 mph when as raced down NE Glisan Street in the early morning hours. Esparza was in a marked Gresham-Fairview Trail crossing prior to the collision.

“During the investigation, the East County Vehicular Crimes Team learned that moments prior to the crash,” reads the statement, “The defendant had aggressively challenged two other drivers to a street race. When he was unable to convince those other drivers to race, Jacoby sped off at a very high rate of speed.”

Multnomah County Chief Deputy District Attorney Kirsten Snowden, who prosecuted this case, said Esparza would not have been hit if Jacoby was driving the speed limit of 40 mph.

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Several of Esparza’s family members addressed the court at the sentencing hearing. “We as a family live with Mr. Jacoby’s mistake every day, every weekend, every holiday,” said Simon Esparza, Robert’s father. “We wake up missing our son, brother and uncle. We go to bed wondering why we won’t see him tomorrow. Sadly, these questions are answered without response.”

In addition to prison time, Jacoby will have his driver’s license permanently revoked and will have to pay for than $82,000 in restitution to the Esparza family.

Read more about this case via The Oregonian.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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49 Comments
  • J_R April 30, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    Alex Jacoby got off easy. I’ll bet he’s out in a year and does not stop driving or speeding.

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  • Steve April 30, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    DAs don’t “hand down” a sentence. He was either convicted in a trial or capped a plea. In either case, a judge was involved.

    Frankly, this is some of the poorest reporting I’ve seen lately. What were the charges? Who was the judge? Was there a trial? If it was a plea bargain, what charges were dropped or softened in exchange?

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    • canuck May 1, 2018 at 6:53 am

      Pled down because the family did not want to go through a trial. The story was in the Oregonian.

      “Prosecutors agreed to a two-year prison sentence because the family didn’t want to go through a trial, according to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office”

      http://www.oregonlive.com/gresham/index.ssf/2018/04/driver_76_gets_2_years_in_pris.html

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 1, 2018 at 8:20 am

      Thanks for the feedback Steve. Glad you found more in-depth coverage of this particular case elsewhere. I realize my post doesn’t have the depth or detail this story deserves; but I figured it was worth making the community aware of the sentence. Also, since we are a very small newsroom, I typically limit our editorial focus to things that happen in Portland.

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  • B. Carfree April 30, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    For predictably deadly behavior like that he gets a trivial prison sentence and a fine that is about the cost of the car? We’ve got a broken system.

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    • paikiala May 1, 2018 at 10:24 am

      You buy $82,000 cars?

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      • B. Carfree May 1, 2018 at 10:38 am

        A new Corvette starts at over $55k, and he did use a Corvette to commit his crime.

        Personally, I don’t purchase cars at all. I was referring to the killer.

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  • Toby Keith April 30, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    Unbelievable. This should have been life for Jacoby.

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    • matchupancakes April 30, 2018 at 6:45 pm

      It’s not possible to say without further details, but I suspect Jacoby’s 75 years of age were a factor behind the short sentence.

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    • Chris I May 1, 2018 at 3:41 pm

      comment deleted by moderator

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  • SD April 30, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    What would someone have to do to get the maximum sentence?

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  • Steve April 30, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    Per other reporting (http://s.oregonlive.com/qNaGd3P), the sentence (for 2nd degree manslaughter) was reduced (from a possible 6-1/4 years) because the “family didn’t want a trial.”

    Critical unanswered question: Which family?

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    • Middle of the Road Guy May 1, 2018 at 9:22 am

      The Oregonian mentioned that the victim’s family was not happy with the sentence, so it’s not difficult to figure out which family wanted the plea deal. Hint: not the victim’s family.

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    • Gary May 1, 2018 at 10:14 am

      The perpetrator’s family doesn’t have a say in the matter, that would be absurd. It had to be the victim’s family. They can both desire to forego a trial and be unhappy with the plea bargain that results, those aren’t mutually exclusive.

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  • Mike Quigley May 1, 2018 at 5:26 am

    The Esparza family can still sue Jacoby for all he’s worth. This guy’s problems are just beginning.

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    • Tilton Farnsworth May 1, 2018 at 1:38 pm

      Cold comfort for the Esparzas.

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  • BikeRound May 1, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Two years is definitely not a trivial prison sentence. And studies have consistently shown that what deters criminal behavior is the certainty of punishment, and the severity of punishment plays only a much smaller role. That is why what we should be having speed cameras (that calculate average speed over a distance based on license plate identification) everywhere, and we should worry less about the actual punishment received by those few who are prosecuted under the current system.

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    • Justin Morton May 1, 2018 at 9:41 am

      Two years is a significant sentence. One year would probably be an appropriate deterrent.

      This country loves to throw people in cages. Because, hey, punishing people is easy. It is much harder to actually try to rehabilitate people.

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      • Huey Lewis May 1, 2018 at 10:05 am

        It’s possibly important to note that the person thrown in a cage here killed someone.

        What would effective rehabilitation look like here?

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty May 1, 2018 at 12:27 pm

          Rehabilitation would involve ensuring Jacoby understood the wrongness of his actions, felt remorse, and wouldn’t commit the same crime again. I do not believe in retributive punishment; I think the sentence is appropriate when combined with lifetime license revocation, as was done here. It will also serve as an adequate deterrent, though, as others have noted, certainty of punishment is much more important.

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          • dwk May 1, 2018 at 1:25 pm

            Punishment should also be a deterrent for others who might think about doing the same thing.
            Do you think a year of jail time will deter others from street racing and killing someone?
            I doubt it, but a life sentence might….

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty May 1, 2018 at 1:32 pm

              I think most street racers think they will not hurt anyone or be punished, so I’m not sure if the severity of the punishment matters much. But for most people, a year in jail is a pretty big deal.

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              • dwk May 1, 2018 at 1:41 pm

                A year in jail is a pretty big deal?
                A 21 year old is Dead! A year in jail is nothing…..

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              • dwk May 1, 2018 at 1:47 pm

                and if a year is jail is sufficient punishment for killing someone, what do you think the punishment for robbery should be?
                a couple of days…..

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              • BB May 1, 2018 at 1:52 pm

                And for most people being killed is an even bigger deal, a year in jail isn’t even comparable..

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty May 1, 2018 at 2:35 pm

                If the point of justice were retribution, then I would completely agree.

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              • BB May 1, 2018 at 2:57 pm

                The point of justice is retribution.. You don’t think the prison environment is remotely conducive to actual rehabilitation, do you? Despite the lip service that is not what our society uses prisons for..

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty May 1, 2018 at 3:03 pm

                I believe that justice is best served when focused on prevention and rehabilitation rather than retribution and vengeance. I’m more a forgiveness than an eye-for-an-eye kind of person.

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              • Chris I May 1, 2018 at 3:42 pm

                He’ll be driving again in 2 years and a few months.

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            • Justin Morton May 1, 2018 at 2:48 pm

              Thank you for making my point.

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          • Matthew in PDX May 1, 2018 at 2:36 pm

            I think it would also be effective if when released Jacoby were on permanent parole, and if caught breaching his parole condition (including operating a motor vehicle on a public street), he would be fined and returned to prison for at least a further three months.

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        • John Lascurettes May 1, 2018 at 12:41 pm

          Rehabilitation here would be a cessation of ever desiring to engage in speed contests or displays. (All of America could use that rehabilitation). It would also include reparations of some sort, such as paying the victim’s family, doing community service in discouraging speed contests, and otherwise proving that he has been reformed of the behavior.

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          • Dan A May 1, 2018 at 1:55 pm

            We could probably use more people in orange jumpsuits standing along our roads holding signs that say “SLOW DOWN”.

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      • SD May 1, 2018 at 11:46 am

        The frustrating aspect of this sentence is the length of time relative to other penalties. It supports the societal norm that your life is worth less when you are riding a bike, and the harm you cause when you are driving is more easily excused.

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        • Justin Morton May 1, 2018 at 2:48 pm

          I certainly do appreciate the DA’s office taking this crime seriously.

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      • Pete May 2, 2018 at 4:15 pm

        Putting people in cages is not just punishment, it’s prevention.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty May 2, 2018 at 4:29 pm

          Absolutely. Some researchers attribute the fall in crime since the 1980s to the long prison sentences we were handing out like candy.

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  • Tom May 1, 2018 at 9:14 am

    Can the license revocation be later appealed? Could the judge specify revocation without any chance of appeal?

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    • Gary May 1, 2018 at 10:17 am

      As it comes from a plea bargain that he agreed to, I can’t think of any mechanism to appeal that aspect of the sentence. It’s possible to appeal the whole deal, but that only happens under very rare circumstances, things like attorney malpractice.

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  • Lazy Spinner May 1, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    At 75 years of age, this might end up being a life sentence. If he is still alive when he gets released, he is looking at being turned out into society bankrupt. Esparza’s family should use the civil courts to strip Jacoby of everything that he ever worked for including his precious Corvette. His family, if he has one, will inherit nothing and that shall be his legacy.

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    • Dan A May 1, 2018 at 1:56 pm

      At least he had time to create a family.

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  • Tilton Farnsworth May 1, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    There are some crucial questions in this case that I have not seen any answers to: 1. How intoxicated/insane does one need to be to be instigating illegal road races at 330am? 2. Why was Jacoby even awake at that hour? 3. Does Jacoby have a history of mental illness and/or reckless driving? All of these are contributing factors to the cause of the collision and should factor into the sentencing. I sincerely doubt Jacoby has a clean record and perfect references within his community, we need to know who this guy is beyond this one reckless act to know how much of a continuing threat he really may be…I really hope LE has done a thorough background check on Jacoby.

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    • Matthew in PDX May 1, 2018 at 2:41 pm

      The report in the Oregonian indicated that Jacoby was sober, no mention of his mental health, he didn’t plead not guilty by reason of insanity. No one needs a reason to be awake at 3.30 a.m., we don’t and shouldn’t regulate people’s sleeping hours. Jacoby’s rap sheet would have been taken into account when determining the sentence, I suspect that there were no recent traffic violations or the sentence would have been longer – which is not to say that this is the first time he engaged in reckless behavior (we don’t know if he has or not) but this may be the first time he got caught.

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      • Tilton Farnsworth May 1, 2018 at 3:43 pm

        Right, no one needs a reason to be street racing at 330am…because nobody EVER has a good reason for that kind of behavior…maybe Jacoby “just felt like it”. Well, if he had no good reason to be out at that hour besides reckless joy riding it means he’s most likely CRAZY and that needs to be taken into account does it not? Sobriety all depends on how he was tested and what substances he was tested for…we have no specific information about that process. Was he tested for prescription drugs? We have no idea. Was it a field sobriety test or was there a blood test? We have no idea. My point is that there are serious questions that the community has not seen answers to yet, and thus far the courts and news organizations haven’t provided that information to the public.

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        • Pete May 3, 2018 at 5:22 pm

          Crazy and irresponsible are two very different things.

          If you’re prone to speeding in your expensive hot rod, you might want to choose a time when the streets are less crowded with traffic, like before rush hour starts…. 3:30 AM might even be a good time to avoid all those dangerous drunks driving around.

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    • Chris I May 1, 2018 at 3:44 pm

      Just you average sober American sociopath behind the wheel of a high-powered vehicle capable of 100+mph adjacent to houses, children, pets, etc.

      Nothing to see here. Move along.

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      • Dan A May 1, 2018 at 4:09 pm

        Kids these days. Under the influence of Fast & Furious movies, Grand Theft Auto video games, and Dodge commercials.

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  • Racer X May 1, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    Too bad Mr. Jacoby just did not take his poor behaviour to the nearest park…like PIR, thats what this public facility is for, correct?

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  • truthseeker May 18, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    here is the real deal: that driver is a poop head – he is dangerous to all – so portland will probably reduce the 40mph to 5 mph – and people like him will still drive 80

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