Scott County

Driver pleads guilty to hitting, killing Horsey Hundred cyclist; sentencing set for October

File photos

Odilon Paz-Salvador, the man accused of killing Lexington attorney Mark Hinkel, 57, during a bicycling event, pleaded guilty Monday to murder and other charges in Scott County.

Paz-Salvador, then 29, was driving drunk and struck Hinkel during the annual Horsey Hundred in May 2015, according to police. Hinkel was struck head-on and hit the windshield of the black Dodge truck driven by Paz-Salvador who then drove nearly three miles with Hinkel in the bed of his truck.

When he was pulled over, police found a cold beer in a cup holder in the truck, and Paz-Salvador told the arresting officer he had drunk six beers and had smoked marijuana before the crash.

Many members of Hinkel’s family were present Monday. Hinkel, who had been married to Mary-Lynn Minton Hinkel for 35 years, was a graduate of the University of Kentucky Law School. He was a partner at the Lexington law firm Landrum & Shouse LLP. A father and grandfather, Hinkel also was athletic director at Christ the King School.

Mary-Lynn Hinkel said in a text message to the Herald-Leader that nothing can bring her husband back, so there can never be justice.

“Drinking and driving is a serious offense that can instantly change lives forever. We are proud of our efforts to support and eventually pass stronger penalties on habitual drunk drivers in the Commonwealth. We feel at peace knowing that this serial drunk driver will not be able to injure or take the life of another innocent person,” the statement said in part.

Hinkel was a member of the Zombie Zone cycling team. Another team member, David Cassidy, was killed in a bicycling accident in April 2016 in Bourbon County. A grand jury took no action in that case.

A “ghost bike” memorial was set up for Hinkel after his death, but it was stolen last November. No one has been charged in the case, and a new memorial was put up.

After Hinkel’s death, a bill was signed into law to allow a fourth DUI conviction within 10 years to be treated as a felony. Previously, it was within five years. Paz-Salvador told officers after his arrest that he’d had nine previous DUIs, most older than five years.

Paz-Salvador also faced deportation to Mexico after a 2012 DUI. After the 2015 murder charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed a detainer with the Scott County jail.

The detainer indicates that county officials must notify immigration officials before releasing Paz-Salvador and must maintain custody for as long as 48 hours to allow immigration officers to assume custody.

Paz-Salvador’s plea came before his trial, which was scheduled to begin this week. His case languished in Scott County for two years as attorneys argued about changing the venue of the trial and evidence.

Paz-Salvador is scheduled to be sentenced in October. His recommended sentence is 35 years in prison and no eligibility for parole for 20 years.

Paz-Salvador’s other charges include wanton endangerment and leaving the scene of an accident which resulted in death. Prosecutors recommended a year in prison on those charges, to be served concurrently with the murder charge.

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