Former Malibu city employee receives four years in state prison

The employee was charged in the death of a cyclist on Pacific Coast Highway last summer.

By Hannah Heineman / Special to The Malibu Times

City employee Robert S. Sanchez was sentenced on June 14 at the Malibu Courthouse to four years in state prison after pleading no contest to two felony counts in the hit and run death of a cyclist last summer on Pacific Coast Highway.

Sanchez pleaded no contest to one felony count of leaving the scene of an accident and one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence at the prehearing conference. Two lesser charges were dismissed.

Judge Lawrence Mira at the hearing denied Sanchez probation, and sentenced him to two four-year terms in prison, to be served concurrently.

A restitution hearing is scheduled for Sanchez at the Malibu Courthouse on July 30. Sanchez is currently still out on bail, but he will have to surrender to begin serving his sentence after the restitution hearing ends.

On June 28, 2009, at 1:30 a.m., 45-year-old Rodrigo Armas, who was a Los Angeles County deputy probation officer, and his 14-year-old son Christian were on the last leg of an annual 200-mile race that begins and ends in Malibu. According to detectives, Sanchez, who was driving a truck, had crossed over the highway’s dividing line and first struck the 14-year-old boy from behind, causing extensive leg injuries, and then struck his father, killing him. Sanchez left the scene of the accident, abandoned his vehicle and hid in nearby brush before Sheriff’s deputies arrested him two hours later. Detectives suspected Sanchez of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They also said the bikes the Armases were riding were properly outfitted with lights for night riding.

City officials told The Malibu Times Sanchez, a resident of Santa Monica, had resigned from his position as a Malibu city clerk, but refused to disclose the exact date of his resignation. They also refused to make any further comments for this story.

Mayor Jefferson Wagner said, in his view, Sanchez’s actions “weren’t intentional but showed a serious lack of judgment and it’s something he’ll regret for the rest of his life. It’s a tragedy for him [and the Armas family].”

Attempts by the Times to contact Sanchez’s defense attorney, Jim Armstrong, were unsuccessful.

Rodrigo Armas was married with three children.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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