Dressed in his white military jumper, a Navy sailor formerly of Clayton pleaded guilty Friday to driving while impaired during a crash in which his hometown buddy was killed.
Victor E. Rivera, 22, will spend the rest of his 10-day leave from military duty in the Wake County jail. When he gets out, he'll be on unsupervised probation for 18 months.
Wake Superior Court Judge William Lawton suspended a six-month prison sentence in favor of a short jail term and probation.
Rivera was driving a Chevrolet Camaro from a party last year during a two-vehicle crash in West Raleigh.
N.C. State University student Brandon Lee Sova, 19, was pronounced dead at the scene, and three men were seriously injured. Sova was an honors graduate of Clayton High School and a sophomore majoring in computer sciences.
The wreck happened just before 2 a.m. on a Saturday in August 2004 on Avent Ferry Road at Chappell Drive. Rivera and Sova had been partying together at another friend's house, Wake Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cruden said.
The Camaro and a Honda sport utility vehicle driven by Michael Bryan Keadle collided at the intersection.
Sova was one of three passengers in the Camaro.
At least two uninvolved people heard the crash, but no one saw it, Cruden said. So far, no one has been charged in Sova's death in part, Cruden said, because Raleigh police could not determine who was at fault in the wreck.
At the scene, Rivera smelled of alcohol and admitted to police that he had been drinking.
At the request of the District Attorney's Office, WakeMed released the blood-alcohol levels of both drivers. Rivera's blood-alcohol level was .16, two times the legal limit. Keadle registered at .24, triple the legal limit.
That's when warrants were issued for the arrests of Rivera and Keadle, Cruden said.
"The police have been looking for Mr. Keadle but have not been able to serve [the warrant]," Cruden said.
Since last year, Cruden said, Rivera has finished boot camp and been promoted from seaman to petty officer third class.
The parents of Brandon Lee Sova could not be reached for comment.
Rivera will be released Oct. 15.
Staff writer Cindy George can be reached at 829-4656 or firstname.lastname@example.org.