Driver free in Marysville stunt death
A man charged in connection with the merry-go-round death of a Marysville teenager will avoid jail if he tells students about the importance of common sense, Yuba County District Attorney Pat McGrath said Wednesday.
Christopher J. King, appearing before Judge Tim Evans, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.
Evans set sentencing for May 2006 when he may dismiss the charge if King, 19, has completed his speaking program at county high schools and middle schools, McGrath said.
Roberta M. MacKinnon, 16, was thrown from a merry-go-round in Stephen J. Field Park at Rideout and Boulton ways last year as she and friends tried to replicate a stunt they saw in "Jackass: The Movie."
The stunt involved wrapping a short length of rope around the base of the merry-go-round and attaching the other end to a vehicle. In this instance, the rope was tied to a pickup driven by King.
The pickup accelerated away from the merry-go-round, causing it to spin. MacKinnon suffered fatal injuries when she was hurled about 60 feet from the merry-go-round, which was spun using a doubled length of rope, and hit the pavement.
MacKinnon's parents "were not actively seeking an aggressive prosecution," McGrath said. "I had talked to the family about some alternatives. One of those alternatives was appealing to them."
King, after his no-contest plea, will be under the supervision of the county's Victim/Witness Program, which will schedule his appearances at schools in the county.
He will discuss "how Bobbi died and the importance of using good judgment and exercising good common sense as one grows up," McGrath said.
Through these talks, the prosecutor said, "the hope on the part of everybody is that maybe some type of good can come from Bobbi's death, and maybe the same type of tragedy can be avoided in the future and other families won't have to go through this."
McGrath said he discussed how to resolve the case with King and his lawyer, Rick Worrell, who called the meeting "extraordinarily unusual."
The plea deal is "an appropriate resolution of the case," Worrell said. "I don't think Christopher was a candidate for confinement. I believe he poses no ongoing danger to the community. This particular resolution, although atypical, serves the public as well as any other would."
Worrell said King no longer lives in Yuba County.
When King returns to court next year, and if he has fulfilled his part of the bargain, "the court at that time has the authority to exercise its independent discretion to dismiss the case in the interests of justice," McGrath said.
"We're optimistic that the case will be dismissed," Worrell said.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Harold Kruger can be reached at 749-4717. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.