Crime

Paso Robles man pleads no contest in head-on crash that killed Los Osos 18-year-old

Alexander Gonzales appears in court in June 2014 for his initial arraignment on charges of driving under the influence and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in connection with a crash that killed Jackson Garland, 18, of Los Osos.
Alexander Gonzales appears in court in June 2014 for his initial arraignment on charges of driving under the influence and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in connection with a crash that killed Jackson Garland, 18, of Los Osos. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

A Paso Robles man faces six years in prison after pleading no contest to causing a crash that killed an 18-year-old Los Osos man in 2014 while he was high on medication to treat heroin addiction.

Alexander Paul Gonzales, 24, pleaded no contest Jan. 18 to a single felony count of vehicular manslaughter in the death of Jackson Garland.

San Luis Obispo County Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham said Monday that, under the terms of his plea, Gonzales is set to receive a maximum of six years in state prison when he is sentenced March 15. In exchange for his no contest plea, prosecutors dismissed a felony charge of driving under the influence of drugs causing great bodily injury.

Gonzales’ attorney, Brian Buckley, did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

On June 18, 2014, Gonzales was driving north on South Bay Boulevard in Los Osos in a rented 2013 Dodge Charger. Witnesses told investigators he was weaving “all over the road” for about 10 seconds, accelerating from 62 mph to 73 mph in a 55 mph speed zone, before crashing into a Chevrolet Cavalier driven by Garland.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, Gonzales was high on heroin and methamphetamine when he hit Garland’s car head-on. Garland, who was born in Baltimore, grew up in Los Osos and worked at a Morro Bay pizzeria at the time of his death, according to his family.

In April 2015, Garland’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Gonzales, his parents and Dr. Kenneth Starr, who operates Ken Starr Addiction Medicine Group in Los Osos. The lawsuit alleges that the facility injected Gonzales with Vivitrol, a drug used to combat heroin dependence, and allowed him to drive home. The lawsuit states that the crash occurred within 10 minutes of Gonzales leaving the facility.

Information about the status of that lawsuit was not immediately available Monday.

Matt Fountain: 805-781-7909, @MattFountain1

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