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Fatal crash

Mason City police officer Victor Hewett is shown in a file photo at a fatal crash on Nov. 22, 2014, in Mason City. Jefferson Davis Sr., who was operating the motorcycle, was killed. A passenger on the bike, Nicole Shariff, is suing the Willow Run Lounge, the bar she alleges served alcohol to Victor Rivera, the driver of the pickup that collided with the motorcycle. 

MASON CITY — A judge has denied a man’s post-conviction relief application in a Mason City vehicular homicide case.

District Court Judge Colleen Weiland ruled Tuesday that Victor Rivera’s sentence of up to 25 years in prison, which includes a mandatory minimum of 17.5 years before he is eligible for parole, was legal.

Rivera, 48, Mason City, received that sentence after pleading guilty in Cerro Gordo County District Court to homicide by vehicle and failure to stop in event of an accident resulting in death.

Authorities say Rivera pulled in front of a motorcycle operated by Jefferson Davis, 43, Mason City, on Nov. 22, 2014, at Highway 122 and South Pierce Avenue.

Davis was killed. Nicole Lynn Shariff, a passenger on the motorcycle, was injured.

During Rivera’s May 25 hearing on his post-conviction relief conviction, his attorney, Dylan J. Thomas, argued Rivera’s crime was unintentional and he is therefore less culpable than those who committed other offenses that are subject to mandatory minimum sentences under Iowa law.

Thomas also claimed Rivera’s sentence was cruel and unusual punishment, stating Iowa has one of the most severe punishments in the nation for Rivera’s combination of crimes due to mandatory minimum sentencing.

In her ruling Weiland stated Iowa law allows someone convicted of both operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated resulting in the death of another and failing to stop at the scene of a fatality, as Rivera was, to be treated different than someone convicted of the first offense alone.

She noted Rivera continued to drive after the accident and evaded police officers.

Although Iowa does appear to have stricter sentencing for vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident than other states, Texas and South Carolina have similar penalties, Weiland’s ruling stated.

Thomas also claimed the $150,000 restitution Rivera was ordered to pay Davis’ family was disproportional to the offense and Rivera doesn’t have the ability to pay it.

Weiland ruled the restitution amount was not disproportional because Rivera was convicted of both vehicular homicide and leaving the scene.

Rivera has appealed Weiland’s decision.

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