Sambath Pal pleads guilty in deaths of motorcyclists

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Frank Schultz
Thursday, July 31, 2014

JANESVILLE—Sambath Pal pleaded guilty Thursday in Rock County Court, admitting he was the driver who killed two young motorcycle riders near Janesville on April 20.

Mitchell J. Vance, 24, and Devin J. Julius, 18, both of Janesville, died from injuries suffered in the crash.

Pal pleaded guilty to two counts of hit-and-run involving death. The maximum penalty on each count includes a maximum prison sentence of 25 years and a $100,000 fine.

Family and friends sat quietly and attentively in the courtroom, listening as Pal said “Guilty, sir,” to each count. A few dabbed tears. Some wore T-shirts that said “Gone but not forgotten.”

Family members did not comment afterward, but a family friend and fellow motorcycle rider said they were pleased with the pleas.

Assistant District Attorney Anne Nack told Judge Richard Werner that Pal had been offered no inducement in exchange for the plea.

Sentencing is set for 3 p.m. Oct. 1.

Pal, 24, of Park City, Illinois, and formerly of Janesville, was visiting his girlfriend and her family in Janesville when the crashes occurred, according to police and court documents.

Pal was driving an Infiniti QX56, which crossed the centerline on Highway 14 on a curve near Harmony Town Hall Road and struck motorcycles driven by Julius and Vance.

Julius and Vance were among a group of riders. 

Pal left the scene without stopping, according to the complaint.

Investigators said auto parts found at the scene matched damage to the SUV like puzzle pieces.

Pal apparently had borrowed the SUV from his father, Saroeun Tigh, also of Park City. Tigh reported his son to authorities after he learned details of the accident from family members in Janesville, according to the criminal complaint.

Police in Illinois arrested Pal, who waived extradition, speeding his return to Rock County. Pal remains in the Rock County Jail.

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