HOLBROOK — Alexander Hogoboom 25, pleaded guilty in the Navajo County Superior Court last Tuesday to one count of manslaughter, a Class 2 Felony and one count of aggravated DUI, a Class 4 Felony. He was indicted by a grand jury for manslaughter after he mowed down and killed a 60 year old cyclist, John McCleve of Snowflake, on Old Woodruff Road on February 25, 2020. The DUI charge arose from an incident at the Aliberto’s restaurant’s parking lot in Taylor on December 24, 2019. He will serve five to 10 years in prison for the manslaughter conviction, and two and one half years in prison for the DUI. All the other charges against him, including a third file which alleged an aggravated assault by disfigurement, will be dismissed at sentencing.
The plea proceeding conducted by Judge Ralph Hatch was unusual. The state is represented by deputy county attorney Patrick Zincola who was present; the defense attorney is Dana Hogle of Mesa, who appeared by phone. Hogoboom is in custody, handcuffed among two other men and seated in the jury box. All the inmates wore cardboard masks. In the front row of the gallery sat the cyclist’s widow, Laura McCleve, the victim advocate, and two younger females believed to be family members. Mrs. McCleve would later read the statement that she held in unsteady hands.
Hogle was late reaching the judge by speaker phone, and Judge Hatch pointedly observed that the plea agreement handed to him contained neither Hogoboom’s signature nor Hogle’s, who Hatch at first called “Hagle.” Defense counsel scrambled to say that he could sign his copy and fax it over, which he did. Prosecutor Zincola then offered it to Hogoboom to sign it—that is unusual; typically defendants, unless they testify in court, have no direct interaction at all with the prosecutor if the defendant has counsel, which Hogoboom does.
The judge started by reviewing the agreement with Hogoboom, and the range of sentencing for each charge. He answered in a strong voice, “Yes, sir,” to most of the court’s questions. Then the court recited all the rights Hogoboom would give up by pleading guilty and “convicting himself,” as Hatch put it. Then came time for the “factual basis,” wherein the court satisfies itself that the defendant really is guilty.
Prosecutor Zincola told the court that on February 25, Hogoboom while “extremely intoxicated,” drove northbound on Old Woodruff Road, while McCleve cycled southbound. Hogoboom crossed into McCleve’s lane and “killed him instantly,” Zincola said, after which time, the defendant stopped about 4,600 feet from the collision site, not to render aid, but to remove and throw into the bushes the bike’s “fork” which had lodged into the vehicle’s front grill. In response to a question by the court, Zincola said the bike’s paint transferred onto Hogoboom’s truck, and fluid, maybe coolant, was found at the scene, possibly caused by the bike’s fork rupturing the radiator of Hogoboom’s 1999 F-150 Ford truck.
Regarding the December 2019 DUI, Zincola avowed that the state’s evidence would show that police contacted Hogoboom at the Aliberto’s after getting reports of his “driving erratically through Taylor.” An alcohol test showed a level of .137 and .139. The presumptive level of impairment while driving in Arizona is .08. Finally, that Hogoboom’s driving privileges were suspended at the time, which makes the DUI a felony—it is normally a misdemeanor.
“Is that what happened?” Judge Hatch asked the defendant. Hogoboom replied, “Somewhat,” a response which invited more questions. Defense counsel said something through the speaker phone which couldn’t be made out from the gallery, but Hogoboom ultimately acknowledged that what the prosecutor said was correct.
The range of sentence the court has to weigh falls between five and ten years in prison for the manslaughter. The two and one-half years on the DUI will run concurrently, (at the same time) not consecutively, (one sentence stacked on top of the other) to whatever Hatch hands down for the manslaughter charge. Laura McCleve wants the maximum. In her tearful statement after a long pause, she told the court that Hogoboom must face “the consequences for his choices,” and that she believes he is “clearly a danger to others.”
Finally, the judge accepted the guilty plea and recited the rule of court that requires a defendant who is headed to prison after being found guilty, to remain in custody on a no-bond hold until he is sentenced. That didn’t stop defense counsel Hogle to ask the court not to accept his client’s guilty plea yet, and to release Hogoboom because he “has quite a few business interests to attend to,” before he goes to prison. After a pause, Judge Hatch ruled: “Motion made and motion denied.” Sentencing is set for July 21.