COLFAX, Wash. -- A Whitman County judge sentenced Richard Pasma to nine months in prison for hit and run charges stemming from his ex-girlfriend being found unconscious and bleeding by the side of a rural road near Albion, Wash., in November 2009.
Pasma started serving his sentence Monday afternoon, immediately after the hearing.
The judge also revoked Pasma’s driver’s license for two years after he gets out of prison.
Pasma originally pleaded not guilty to hit and run charges back in August.
The former boyfriend of Kristen Grindley, 23, entered a no contest, or Alford, plea to hit and run charges last month.
Court documents include the following statement from Pasma: “I don’t believe I am guilty, but I am pleading guilty to take advantage of the prosecutor’s plea bargain and therefore avoid the risks of trial.”
Grindley was found unconscious and bleeding by the side of the road in the early hours of Nov. 11, 2009. She suffered serious brain trauma and memory loss and doesn't remember everything that happened that day.
Today, Grindley and her parents heard "I'm sorry" for the first time from Richard Pasma and his parents.
"I know you guys think that I'm not sorry, but I'm sorry for all your troubles in the last year, and I wish this would have never would have happened," Pasma said in court.
Pasma faced three to five years in prison if he was found guilty, versus three to nine months in jail if he chose the no contest option. In court, Pasma conceded because of the evidence against him, a jury would most likely find him guilty, so a week and a half ago he took a plea deal to avoid extensive prison time for felony hit and run.
What caused Grindley's injuries remains unclear, but Pasma is sticking to his story. According to court documents, he believes that "in an obsessive and intoxicated moment, Kristen climbed into the back of his pickup and then managed to fall out without him knowing.”
Grindley has a different recollection. She said she only remembers climbing into the pickup that night, but can't remember how she was injured. "He didn't say anything to me, but he put the car in gear and kind of floored it, and went very fast out into the street. That's the last thing I can remember from that morning," Grindley said.
Pasma said in court documents that Grindley was the only one responsible for her injuries.
Both the Pasma and Grindley families say sentencing brings a form of closure, but Grindley's mother still finds her daughter's ordeal troubling.
"Honestly, this is my baby, and he hurt her and I wish he'd do life in prison. That's how I feel," she said.