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June 21, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Man pleads guilty in wrong-way crash on Highway 520 bridge

Michael Robertson, 25, pleaded guilty Friday to vehicular homicide.  (Mike Carter / The Seattle Times)

Michael Robertson, 25, pleaded guilty Friday to vehicular homicide. (Mike Carter / The Seattle Times)

A 25-year-old Tacoma man accused of killing a woman in a wrong-way crash on Highway 520 in Seattle pleaded guilty Friday to vehicular homicide and drunk-driving in an emotional hearing Friday in King County Superior Court.

Michael Anthony Robertson, handcuffed to a wheelchair despite two broken legs suffered in the crash, tearfully agreed to plead guilty as charged to the devastating April 4 crash that killed 58-year-old Morgan Fick Williams, along with a drunk-driving charge that was pending in Tacoma when the accident in Seattle occurred.

Robertson received no concessions from the state. King County Senior Deputy Prosector Amy Freedheim said she would seek the maximum sentence of 10.5 years when Robertson is sentenced on July 26.

“This was a devastating … violent crash” at a narrow section of the highway where Williams could not see anyone coming  and had no room to maneuver, Freedheim said. The combined impact of the two vehicles involved forces equivalent to driving into a wall at 100 miles per hour. Williams died hours afer the early morning crash from extensive injuries. Both of Robertson’s legs were shattered, and he suffered other injuries.

“It is a heartbreaking situation,” Freedheim said. “But he is taking responsibility for it.”

Matt Fick, the victim’s brother and one of several family members in court Friday morning, said the family is grateful that Robertson has taken responsibility for his actions and has chosen not to put the family through the difficulties of a trial.  “We are happy that he’s accepted responsibility for what he’s done. It is a big relief,” Fick said.

Robertson was wheeled into the courtroom, both of his lower legs still in rehabilitative boots, and had some difficulty maneuvering the chair into position at the counsel table. His voice cracked as he answered questions and entered guilty pleas before Judge Kenneth Comstock.

“He is sick to his soul over what he’s done,” said his defense attorney, Ramona Brandes, after the hearing. “He is very much aware that he is a young man and will someday get out of prison to live his life, but that Morgan and her family have lost her forever.”

When state troopers arrived at the accident scene, the badly injured Robertson “kept trying to exit the car and ‘go home,’” Freedheim wrote in charging documents. Investigators found a near-empty bottle of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky in his front-passenger seat, according to the documents.

Robertson’s breath smelled of alcohol, and he had “bloodshot, watery eyes and thick, slurred speech,” the papers say.

Robertson’s blood was drawn at Harborview Medical Center about 90 minutes after the 5:23 a.m. crash, and prosecutors are awaiting the results of toxicology tests from the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab, the papers say. Freedheim wrote that test results are expected to show Robertson’s “blood alcohol content was significantly above” the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

In December, Robertson was arrested in Tacoma on suspicion of driving under the influence after he allegedly hit another vehicle and drove away, according to a Washington State Patrol report.

Williams, of Seattle, was on her way to work in Bellevue at Eddie Bauer’s corporate headquarters, where she was the manager of accounts payable.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: King County Superior Court, vehicular homicide

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