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New trial sought for Blake Mostrong

August 15, 2001|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

Attorneys for 21-year-old Blake Mostrong will seek a new trial for Mostrong, found guilty of vehicular manslaughter while under the influence and hit-and-run driving in the Oct. 7 death of 17-year-old Alpine resident Michelle Marie Grady.

Mostrong was to be sentenced in the County Courthouse in El Centro on Tuesday but his attorney, Robert Espinosa of El Centro, asked for a continuance to file motions to seek a new trial.

Days after Mostrong was convicted by the jury, the Mostrong family hired El Centro attorney Eric Beaudikofer as co-counsel in the case.

Superior Court Judge Matias Contreras was advised Espinosa was seeking a continuance on the sentencing. Espinosa told Contreras the defense wished to delay the sentencing until Oct. 4.

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Contreras said the problem with moving the sentencing to Oct. 4 is it would have to be done in the county jail court.

Contreras then suggested Oct. 5 so the sentencing could be in the County Courthouse, to which Espinosa and Deputy District Attorney Wayne Robinson agreed. The judge asked Mostrong if he agreed to waive his 20-day sentencing period, to which he replied "yes."

The fatal accident occurred just before midnight Oct. 7.

Mostrong had been at a "keg" party in the Superstition Mountains before he and friends went for a drive in his van, with Mostrong at the wheel.

Michelle and a friend had gone for a ride in a golf cart and the cart had stopped on Wheeler on the northbound side of the road.

Mostrong's van struck a motorcycle, shoving it into a golf cart. The van then struck Michelle, throwing her an estimated 107 feet. She died at the scene, and one of her companions was critically injured.

Mostrong's passengers ran from the accident scene. One friend who didn't flee, Kristoffer Purdy of El Centro, moved Mostrong to the passenger seat of the van and drove the two from the scene.

Nearly 17 hours later, Mostrong turned himself in at the California Highway Patrol office in Imperial.

On July 17, after a lengthy and emotional trial, Mostrong was found guilty by a jury.

Mostrong could be facing nearly 16 years in state prison.

Outside the courtroom Tuesday, Espinosa told a reporter, "There were mistakes done during the trial by the jury and the judge by not allowing us to show our full complete defense on the case."

Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3435.

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