A Garden City man who was facing a second-degree murder charge in connection with a fatal motorcycle crash in October 2017 pleaded no contest Tuesday to the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter as part of a plea agreement.
The day originally had been set aside for a preliminary hearing in Finney County District Court for Bashir Omar, who had been charged with second-degree murder, reckless driving and driving under the influence in the death of 67-year-old Robert Becker of Garden City.
But under a new complaint issued under the plea agreement and accepted by Chief District Judge Robert Frederick, the charges were changed to involuntary manslaughter, attempted failure to stop and remain at a scene of an accident resulting in death and criminal damage to property.
Omar pleaded no contest to all three charges and was subsequently convicted. By pleading no contest, Omar neither admits to nor disputes the charges, but it has the same effect as a guilty plea.
Omar was present with his lawyer, Lucy Douglass of Garden City, and Somali interpreter Sirad Farah.
Frederick asked Omar if he understood that a conviction could result in deportation from the country, being excluded from admission into the United States and/or being denied naturalization. Omar said he understood.
Frederick asked Assistant Finney County Attorney Kristi Cott what evidence prosecutors would have presented had the case gone to trial.
In regards to the manslaughter charge, Cott said she would call on several eyewitnesses of the accident and Michael Kerley, who produced the accident reconstruction report.
The state would have provided a doctor's testimony stating that Becker died of massive cranial cerebral and drastic blunt trauma caused by being struck and run over by the Jeep Omar was driving.
Kerley and eyewitness testimony would show that on Oct. 7, 2017, Omar and Becker were southbound in the 2400 block of Fleming Street, Omar traveling at about 35 mph in his Jeep and Becker in front of him at about 21 mph on his motorcycle in a 30 mph residential zone.
Prosecutors planned to present evidence showing Omar collided with Becker, causing Becker to lose control, roll and slide. Omar’s vehicle continued moving forward, colliding again with Becker’s body and motorcycle, said Cott, adding that Omar accelerated over Becker, pushing him and the motorcycle over the curb, across the sidewalk and across a nearby yard, driveway and more grass.
Cott said Omar then drove over the motorcycle and turned left and the bike broke free from the Jeep. Becker was still “attached” to the vehicle as Omar turned left and made a “critical speed scuff” on Fleming Street before colliding with the curb on the opposite end of the street, Cott said. Becker was “dislodged” from under the vehicle as Omar began to accelerate and turn left rapidly, spinning the Jeep in a circle and coming to rest over Becker’s body in a grass field.
Omar then backed up and drove forward, driving over Becker’s body again, Cott said.
She said an eyewitness recorded the final moments of the incident, including the Jeep driving over Becker, on a cellphone and that the video would have been submitted into evidence.
The state, Cott said, would have provided evidence “that the defendant should have known” he was driving recklessly in the form of two prior accidents — one in June 2016 and one in July 2017 — where Omar mistook the gas for the break, causing him to drive into an apartment complex on one occasion and rear ending a vehicle on another.
Cott said evidence would have shown the collision was not due to mechanical failure of Omar’s Jeep or Becker’s motorcycle and, in a departure from the state’s original complaint claiming Omar was driving under the influence, that blood samples taken the day of the accident showed that there were “no substances found” in Omar’s system.
According to a police affidavit, Omar told officers he saw Becker’s motorcycle before the crash but that it “stopped suddenly,” and that he did not take his foot off the accelerator. He told police the incident was “the will of God,” according to the affidavit.
Douglass said if witnesses gave the same accounts in court that they gave on police records, she agreed “that there would be witnesses available to the state to present evidence substantially consistent” to what Cott described.
Depending on his criminal history, Omar could serve between 31 and 136 months for involuntary manslaughter, 7 to 23 months for attempted failure to stop and remain at a scene of an accident resulting in death and 5 to 17 months for criminal damage to property, Frederick said.
Omar's sentencing hearing is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. July 2 in courtroom 204.
Frederick ruled Omar was competent to stand trial at a competency hearing on Feb. 5. The preliminary hearing originally was scheduled for March 28, but was continued because the prosecution was unable to subpoena a witness.
Omar has been in the Finney County Jail since October 2018 after undergoing a mental evaluation at Larned State Hospital. The evaluation and issues finding and scheduling translators have long delayed the case.
Contact Amber Friend at email@example.com.