Crime

‘I don’t think it’s fair.’ He pleaded guilty to cyclist’s murder, then changed his mind.

Odilon Paz-Salvador withdrew his guilty plea Friday in the murder case of Lexington lawyer Mark Hinkel. Skid marks could be seen in May 2015 at the site where Hinkel, bottom, was struck and died after being hit by a vehicle driven by Paz-Salvador, top. Hinkel was hit while participating in the Horsey Hundred cycling event in Scott County.
Odilon Paz-Salvador withdrew his guilty plea Friday in the murder case of Lexington lawyer Mark Hinkel. Skid marks could be seen in May 2015 at the site where Hinkel, bottom, was struck and died after being hit by a vehicle driven by Paz-Salvador, top. Hinkel was hit while participating in the Horsey Hundred cycling event in Scott County.

On the day he was to be sentenced, the man who pleaded guilty in July to murder in the 2015 death of Lexington attorney and cyclist Mark Hinkel asked to withdraw that plea.

Odilon Paz-Salvador, 31, was to be sentenced Friday in Scott Circuit Court. The recommended sentence was 35 years in prison, with eligibility for parole after 20 years.

Through an interpreter, Paz-Salvador told Judge Paul Isaacs, “I don’t think it’s fair for me to plead guilty. It wasn’t intentional.”

Public defender Kristin Gonzalez had no comment after Friday’s proceeding.

Isaacs has scheduled a hearing on Paz-Salvador’s request to withdraw the plea on Nov. 17. If the judge rules against the motion, Isaacs will sentence Paz-Salvador that day.

If the judge rules in favor of the motion, the case will proceed to trial at a later, undetermined date.

In the meantime, the judge directed the Department of Public Advocacy to arrange for “conflict counsel” to represent Paz-Salvador. That will be a private attorney who works with, but not for, the public defender’s office. That attorney will represent Paz-Salvador in the request to withdraw the plea.

Paz-Salvador was driving drunk and struck Hinkel with his Dodge pickup truck during the annual Horsey Hundred in May 2015, police said at the time. Hinkel, 57, hit the windshield and landed in the bed of the pickup. Paz-Salvador then drove nearly three miles with Hinkel in the bed of the truck, police said.

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

The other charges include wanton endangerment and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death.

Hinkel, a member of the Zombie Zone cycling team, was a partner in the Lexington law firm Landrum & Shouse LLP. A father and grandfather, he was athletic director at Christ the King School.

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.

About two-thirds of the courtroom gallery was filled with Hinkel’s relatives and friends. They were told about the request to withdraw the plea in another room outside the courtroom and were then allowed to leave the building.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Gordie Shaw said he learned about Paz-Salvador’s request Thursday night.

Asked about the reaction of Hinkel’s relatives and friends, Shaw said, “Obviously, there was disappointment.

“You could say they were taken back by it, but this case has presented so many twists and turns along the way, and they were hoping this would be the day they could finalize this chapter.”

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