OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — The woman accused of driving while under the influence of drugs and crashing into a retention pond, killing her three children, withdrew her no-contest plea in court Thursday.
Leticia Gonzales had previously pleaded no contest to one count of operating while intoxicated causing death as part of a tentative deal with the Ottawa County Prosecutor's Office, Gonzales' attorney and the judge overseeing the case. That count includes the deaths of all three children. The two other counts against her were dismissed.
This includes a sentencing agreement of 365 days in county jail.
But during the sentencing hearing, the judge said he would be handing her a sentence far greater than that agreed jail term: 48-180 months, or about four years to 15 years with 45 days of jail credit.
The judge asked her if she'd like to say anything before sentencing.
"No, I just want to take, you know, the consequences," she said while on the stand next to her attorney.
Because her no-contest plea was considered a Killebrew plea, the judge gave the defense time to consider whether or not to move forward with the sentencing.
A Killebrew plea is a conditional guilty plea that allows the defendant to withdraw their plea if the judge's sentence falls outside sentencing terms that were negotiated by the prosecutor and defense.
After a brief recess, her attorney said they would like to withdraw the plea.
On Feb. 17, 2022, Leticia Gonzales was driving with her three young children in the car when it veered off the road, hit a curb, rolled and landed in a retention pond in Holland Township.
Gonzales was able to escape the car with minor injuries. Her children were strapped in car seats. Police and rescuers arrived and managed to pull the boys from the water that was covered with nearly eight inches of ice, but it was too late. Her children—4-year-old Jerome, 3-year-old Jeremiah and 1-year-old Josiah—were all killed in the crash.
Court documents later showed that Gonzales had misused a prescription drug hours before the crash. A deputy who evaluated Gonzales at the hospital after the crash reported her pupils were "notably constricted," her eyelids were droopy and she had difficulty keeping her eyes open.
Gonzales was later charged with three counts of operating while intoxicated causing death.
It's not clear when her next court date will be set.
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