Hit-and-run suspect ordered held on $200,000

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Gazette staff
Friday, May 2, 2014

JANESVILLE--Prosecutors are waiting to find out if vehicle parts found at the scene of a double-fatal, hit-and-run crash fit the SUV they believe Sambath Pal was driving when two motorcyclists were killed Easter Sunday.

Investigators said the damage to the 2004 Infiniti QX56 impounded when Pal was arrested in Park City, Illinois, is consistent with the crash, but the parts have not been compared to the vehicle, Rock County District Attorney David O'Leary said.

“We're waiting for that actual fitting at the crime lab,” O'Leary said.

Pal, 24, is suspected of driving the SUV that crossed the centerline and hit two motorcyclists at dusk. Mitchell J. Vance, 24, and Devin J. Julius, 18, both of Janesville, died from injuries suffered in the crash.

Pal on Thursday waived extradition from Lake County, Illinois, and was transferred to the Rock County Jail later in the day. He made his initial appearance in Rock County Court on Friday and was ordered held on a $200,000 cash bond.

Pal is charged with two felony counts of hit and run resulting in death, each carrying a maximum prison sentence of 25 years and maximum fine of $100,000.

Pal's father, Saroeun Tigh of Park City, called the Rock County 911 center April 24, four days after the fatal crash. Tigh told investigators Pal had driven the Infiniti to Janesville over the weekend, and the vehicle had front-end damage when Pal returned.

Park City police went to Tigh's home, found the vehicle and arrested Pal the same day.

Pal was in Janesville during Easter weekend to visit his girlfriend, according to the complaint.

The girlfriend's mother told investigators Pal gave his girlfriend a ride to work around 5 p.m. April 20 and left again around 7:20 p.m. to pick her up from work, according to the complaint.

Assistant District Attorney Anne Nack said the girlfriend took an extra shift at work, so Pal left and drove to Woodman's grocery story to buy a bottle of wine as a gift for his girlfriend's mother.

It was on Pal's drive from Woodman's to the girlfriend's home on New Haven Drive that prosecutors believe he crossed the centerline on Highway 14 near Old Humes Road and collided with the oncoming motorcycles, Nack said.

Pal returned to the girlfriend's home sometime around sunset, although the mother could not remember the time, according to the complaint.

“He came home, hung out for a while and went to bed,” Nack said.

The sheriff's office was called to the accident at 7:57 p.m.

Pal is due back in court at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

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