Driver indicted in death of Lakeside High teacher changes plea to guilty

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt May 4, 2016
Ramiro Pedemonte. Source: DeKalb County Sheriff

Ramiro Pedemonte. Source: DeKalb County Sheriff

This story has been updated. 

Ramiro Pedemonte has pleaded guilty to his role in a wreck that claimed the life of a Lakeside High School teacher.

Pedemonte, 20, pleaded guilty to first-degree vehicular homicide, reckless driving and three counts of serious injury by vehicle in connection with the crash that killed Leah O’Brien on April 25, 2015, the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office said. Pedemonte initially pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

“He was travelling more than 100 mph on Scott Boulevard when the rental car he was driving T-boned O’Brien’s car at the intersection of Ridley Circle in Decatur,” the press release from the District Attorney’s Office says. “O’Brien, who was going to drop off her 8-year-old daughter Kori before going to chaperon the Lakeside prom, was trapped in her car and died on the scene. Kori suffered traumatic brain injury and was in a coma for 13 days.”

The posted speed limit on Scott Boulevard is 40 miles per hour.

Pedemonte will serve 15 years probation when his sentence is completed and his license will be suspended for five years upon of his release from prison, the District Attorney’s Office said.

According to a spokesperson with the District Attorney’s Office, the prosecutor recommended a sentence of 15 years to serve 10 in prison. The judge imposed a harsher sentence of 30 years to serve 15 in prison. The defense asked for a sentence of 20 years, with Pedemonte to serve only 2,500 hours of community service, in addition to paying restitution and having his license suspended.

Pedemonte, a student, was taking his date to the prom in a rented Dodge Charger. It’s unclear how the teenagers involved in the wreck were able to obtain the rental car. The website of the rental car company that owns the Charger said the minimum age to rent a car is 21, but there are special restrictions for renters between the ages of 21 and 24. According to the website, “Drivers between the ages of 21-24 may only rent specific vehicle classes: Economy, Compact, Intermediate, Standard, Full-Size, Minivan, Intermediate SUV, or Standard SUV.” The Dodge Charger is considered a “Premium” vehicle class, meaning that the person who rented it had to be at least 25 years old.

Here is the full press release from the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office:

DECATUR, GA – A DeKalb County judge on Tuesday sentenced a man to 15 years in prison for killing a Lakeside High School teacher in a 2015 prom-night automobile crash.

Ramiro Gerrardo Pedemonte pleaded guilty to first-degree vehicular homicide, reckless driving and three counts of serious injury by vehicle for the wreck that killed 33-year-old Leah O’Brien on April 25, 2015.

Pedemonte, 20, also will serve 15 years on probation when his prison sentence is completed.

He was travelling more than 100 mph on Scott Boulevard when the rental car he was driving T-boned O’Brien’s car at the intersection of Ridley Circle in Decatur.

O’Brien, who was going to drop off her 8-year-old daughter Kori before going to chaperon the Lakeside prom, was trapped in her car and died on the scene. Kori suffered traumatic brain injury and was in a coma for 13 days.

Pedemonte and Zana McGrit were also on their way to the Lakeside prom. Both suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the wreck.

DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Linda Hunter also ordered that Pedemonte’s license be suspended for five years upon of his release from prison.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

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