Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Six-time felon pleads guilty in hit-and-run death

LANCE BENZEL Updated: November 20, 2012 at 12:00 am

A six-time felon with a record of habitual driving offenses spanning two decades pleaded guilty Tuesday in a hit-and-run that killed a Colorado Springs teenager.

David Allan Henley Jr., 38, will serve 36 years in prison under a plea bargain he accepted in the May 3 death of 14-year-old Ricardo “Ricky” Gonzalez Figueroa.

Henley, who has six prior felony convictions, including vehicular eluding, told 4th Judicial District Judge David A. Gilbert that he wanted to plead guilty “from the beginning” and attributed his decision to flee to “stupidity.” Clad in an orange El Paso County jail jumpsuit with his hands cuffed behind his back, he answered “yes, sir” and “no, sir” to the judge’s questions from the bench.

“It’s absolutely genuine,” his attorney, public defender Jill Tranel, said after the hearing.

“He’s been eager to resolve the hit-and-run as soon as possible. He doesn’t want to put the family through a trial.”

Henley could have faced up to 48 years in prison had he been convicted of the hit-and-run and a slew of sentence enhancers based on previous convictions.

At the time of his arrest, Henley had no license and no insurance. He has been arrested or ticketed dozens of times since 1993, when he was first branded a “habitual traffic offender” by the courts, records show. His six felonies include convictions for vehicle theft in 1993; attempted motor vehicle theft in 2004 and eluding police in 2005.

The boy’s mother, Yolanda Figueroa, bowed her head and wept as Henley’s guilty plea was acknowledged by the court.

She was comforted by her husband, Daniel Gonzalez, and their 18-year-old daughter Cintia Gonzalez.

“He was just a really funny kid,” Cintia Gonzalez said of her brother before the hearing.

“He was so excited to go to high school. He wasn’t scared at all, like I was.”

While waiting for the hearing to begin Tuesday afternoon, the family recalled Figueroa’s funeral, which drew such a large crowd that mourners couldn’t be accommodated in the tiny chapel at Angelus Funeral Home. They stood in the kitchen, lobby, dining room and hallways to listen to the service. “He had so many friends we didn’t even know about,” his sister said with a smile.

Speaking in Spanish with her daughter translating, Yolanda Figueroa thanked the prosecution team, Michael Fisher and Grant Libby, and asked that her gratitude be passed on to the community for its support.

According to reports, Figueroa was running across South Circle Drive at Airport Road just before 8:30 p.m. May 3 when he fell. He got up and was hit by a full-size Chevrolet pickup truck, which immediately left the intersection, heading south on Circle.

Henley was arrested several days later after police received anonymous tips naming him as the driver.

Henley will remain in El Paso County jail without bond pending a Jan. 7 trial on unrelated charges of possessing child pornography. He was under investigation at the time of Figueroa’s death, court records show.

A sentencing date on the hit-and-run will be scheduled when Henley returns to court on Dec. 4.

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