An ex-convict who led police officers in a 40-minute car chase that ended in him crashing his car pleaded guilty on Monday and was sentenced to the maximum term of nine years in prison.
Vincent San Nicolas Norita, 32, pleaded guilty to a total of 18 traffic offenses.
Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho sentenced him to nine years imprisonment, to be served day for day without probation. Norita was given credit for three months and 12 days of time served. He was ordered to pay a $250 fine and $25 court costs.
The judge noted that Norita has prior convictions for robbery and burglary.
Assistant public defender Tillman Clark served as Norita’s counsel. Assistant attorney general J. Robert Glass Jr. appeared for the government.
Last December, the Office of the Attorney General dismissed without prejudice the criminal charges against Norita over that car chase that ended when his car hit an embankment and overturned in Koblerville in the evening of Dec. 9, 2016. Dismissed without prejudice means the government may re-file the case in the future.
The OAG subsequently filed the traffic charges against Norita over the car chase incident and theft of a vehicle.
According to court documents, on Dec. 1, 2016, on Saipan, Norita stole a vehicle owned by Jeju Airlines.
On Dec. 9, 2016, Norita operated a car on the highways at dangerous speeds while eluding police officers, disobeying traffic signs, failing to signal, and driving with a willful or wanton disregard to the safety of persons or property which caused an accident.
The defendant left the scene while in a car that he tampered with by removing the license plate and replacing it with a license plate belonging to a different vehicle.
Norita stated at the change of plea hearing that he drove the car over 100 miles per hour from Chalan Laulau to Garapan, to Tanapag, back to Garapan, Chinatown, Chalan Laulau, and to Koblerville where he eventually crashed.
Norita stated that he drove on the highways as well as into the residential areas and that the way he was driving was dangerous to people on the road
Norita admitted that he was trying to elude the police.
The car chase went viral after a bystander took a video of a police officer, who appeared to be hitting Norita repeatedly with a baton or stick as he lay on the ground.
Police said that Norita’s car, a white 2011 Toyota Yaris four-door sedan with license plate ADZ-841, was speeding and nearly hit several pedestrians during the pursuit that happened in the evening last Dec. 9.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services disclosed that the driver, Norita, stated he had pain on the back of his right shoulder blade.
DFEMS said Norita, who was uncooperative, also sustained three small cuts on the forehead and a half-inch cut on the left leg.
DPS had previously stated that it is investigating the police officer’s alleged beating of Norita.