DENVER (CBS4)– The driver who struck and killed a young woman in downtown Denver last fall pleaded guilty on Thursday.
Norlan Estrada Reyes was behind the wheel when he struck Karina Pulec at 13th and Broadway in October 2016. A friend she was walking with was also injured.
He pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident. The guilty plea keeps Pulec’s family from the emotion of a lengthy trial.
“I think it’s a sense of relief, really, that it’s reached its conclusion,” said Sean Williams, a close friend of Pulec.
Estrada Reyes was identified as the driver after he crashed and then abandoned his white pickup truck just a few miles from the scene.
He was arrested and the Denver District Attorney’s Office began building a case.
“We just really wanted to get a conviction in this case we wanted him to answer for his crimes,” said Williams.
That would prove to be more difficult than anticipated. Estrada Reyes, an illegal immigrant from Honduras, had been deported before, and was wanted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. If he had been deported by ICE after the crash, there would be no trial.
“We worked very diligently with the federal authorities, with ICE, to ensure that he stayed here so that we could try him and get a conviction,” said Williams.
A judge issued a $1 million bond that essentially kept Estrada Reyes behind bars.
He is scheduled to be sentenced in August and could spend anywhere from four to 12 years in prison.