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Utah driver takes plea deal in West Valley City stroller death

Published January 28, 2014 9:40 am

Courts • Kimberly Munoz pleaded guilty to causing an accident involving property damage.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A 21-year-old woman accused of fleeing after she crashed her car into a stroller and killed the 2-year-old riding inside has pleaded guilty to reduced charges.

Kimberly Munoz, of West Valley City, was originally charged in 3rd District Court with third-degree felony leaving the scene of an accident involving death and three misdemeanors that allege she was driving without valid insurance, wasn't wearing her eyeglasses and had illegal tinting on her windshield.

On Monday, Munoz pleaded guilty to one charge of causing an accident involving property damage, a third-degree felony. The remaining charges were dismissed.

Munoz faces up to five years in prison when she is sentenced on March 24.

But her attorney, Bel-Ami de Montreux, said Monday afternoon that prosecutors have agreed to recommend that Munoz be sentenced to three years probation and no further jail time.

"The child was in a place where the child should not have been," de Montreux said. "It was an accident. Neither me nor you or anyone else could have avoided hitting that stroller, one way or another."

According to charging documents, Angela Barnett was crossing 5600 West and 4005 South in West Valley City on June 10, about 9:15 p.m., with her 9-year-old daughter by her side and her son, Gavyn, in a stroller.

The area was poorly lit, and there was no crosswalk, according to police. As the mother moved toward the sidewalk with her children, a car crashed into the stroller.

The impact sent the stroller — and the child inside it — flying into the road. Gavyn Barnett was taken to Primary Children's Hospital but later died from his injuries.

The car stopped briefly before continuing on, the mother told police.

The case went unsolved for months, but eventually police received a tip from family members of Munoz's ex-boyfriend, who told police that she was responsible for the crash.

Munoz told detectives that she had forgotten to wear her glasses that night. The road was dark and she "couldn't see very well," according to charging documents. She hadn't noticed anyone crossing the street.

"My client's mistake and only mistake was leaving the scene behind and not going back," De Montreux said. "She was very young, she panicked, and she went away. We want to emphasize our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the child that passed away, and we are in no way blaming the mother. It was poor judgment — almost no one could have avoided hitting that stroller."

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller