Motorist in Key Biscayne DUI hit-and-run to plead guilty

 

dovalle@MiamiHerald.com

Carlos Bertonatti, the Key Biscayne man accused of killing a cyclist in a drunk-driving hit-and-run crash, will plead guilty.

The 32-year-old one-time aspiring musician told a Miami-Dade judge on Tuesday that he plans to plead guilty for the January 2010 wreck that claimed the life of Christophe LeCanne.

Bertonatti faces a minimum of 11.56 years in prison, and a max of up to 35 years behind bars.

He will plead guilty directly to the court, with no plea offer. The plea was delayed until Feb. 19 so that LeCanne’s relatives can fly into Miami from France.

Circuit Judge Bronwyn Miller will sentence Bertonatti, who is charged with DUI manslaughter, fleeing and eluding, leaving the scene of an accident and resisting arrest without violence.

Miami-Dade prosecutors say that Bertonatti struck LeCanne from behind on the Bear Cut Bridge after swerving into the eastbound bicycle lane about 8 a.m. Bertonatti then sped off, the victim’s bicycle still wedged under his car, until he reached the village of Key Biscayne, where he was arrested.

His blood alcohol level was .122, well over the legal limit , authorities said.

His death — and that of cyclist Aaron Cohen on the Rickenbacker Causeway in February 2010 — prompted calls for safety from Miami’s avid cycling community.

Motorist Michele Traverso killed Cohen and injured another cyclist, then left the scene. He called his lawyer and turned himself the next day, too late for police to test his blood for alcohol.

Traverso pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident involving a fatality, which carried a maximum sentence of 30 years behind bars.

In a decision that outraged Cohen’s supporters and family, a Miami-Dade judge sentenced Traverso to just over the minimum mandatory sentence of 22.6 months behind bars, the remaining 364 days to be completed in the county jail.

Bertonatti’s court date Tuesday also comes one month after a 20-year-old bartender fatally struck a South Beach chef walking to his job at the Shore Club hotel. She too fled the scene, police said, but was arrested after a good Samaritan followed her and alerted officers.

Karlie Tomica’s blood alcohol level was a staggering .225 two hours after the crash. She will likely be formally charged with DUI manslaughter next week, as well as leaving the scene of an accident with a fatality.

The family of Stefano Riccioletti, the chef killed in the Collins Avenue accident, has filed suit against Tomica and the nightclub where she worked.

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