Trial set to begin in Boise hit-and-run death

A year ago, a Boise man pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a midnight accident on State Street that led to the death of a bicyclist.

Authorities say Gavin B. Haley, 31, drove his SUV into Victor Haskell, 53, at 12:15 a.m. on Sept. 27, 2013, on State near North 30th Street and left without stopping.

Haskell, who lived in Garden City, was found on the road several hours later. He was believed to be pedaling home from his job as a dishwasher at Angell's Bar and Grill Renato in Downtown Boise.

Haley later withdrew his plea after case attorneys learned from an Idaho Statesman story that he had been convicted of burglary in 2004 in Minidoka County. The lawyers were previously unaware of the conviction, and 4th District Judge Thomas Neville said the disclosure meant he was no longer willing to grant Haley a withheld judgment, which had been part of Haley’s plea agreement.

A withheld judgment allows a judge to place a person on probation and wipe the conviction off his record if he successfully completes probation. Although the case will still appear in online state court records, the person can truthfully say he was not convicted of that crime.

So Haley is set to go to trial Monday on the charge of leaving the scene. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison.

Haley was arrested several hours after Boise police released a detailed description of the suspect and the vehicle that struck Haskell. Investigators seized a 2003 Land Rover owned by Haley.

The Idaho Statesman first reported on Sept. 28 that Haley was convicted in the 2004 burglary in Minidoka County. The Statesman learned of the conviction by searching the state’s free online court repository. Haley was sentenced to two to five years in state prison, but the judge retained jurisdiction and released Haley from custody after four months.

Repository records also showed that Haley was convicted of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud or forgery in Cassia County, possession of a controlled substance in Minidoka County and being a minor in possession of alcohol in Cassia and Bonneville counties.

He also has motor-vehicle convictions. He was convicted of inattentive/careless driving in Minidoka County, and he has numerous convictions for driving without privileges, driving with an expired licensed and failure to maintain auto insurance. In Ada County, Haley was convicted in January 2013 of failure to register his vehicle. In 2009, he was convicted of driving without a license and without insurance.

Had he received a withheld judgment last year, Haley would have spent six months in prison. Had he then successfully completed a prison treatment program, he could have been released and allowed to remove the conviction from his criminal record.

Neville said last year that he was prepared to sentence Haley to one to five years in prison. After talking with his attorney, Jon Cox, Haley instead withdrew his guilty plea and pleaded not guilty.

Neville retired in February. Senior Judge George Carey will preside over the trial, which is expected to last three to five days.