Friday, December 9, 2011

2005 manslaughter case resurfaces

Judge determines Cheryl Wise has met restitution requirements


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Cheryl Marie Wise

A six-year-old vehicular manslaughter case resurfaced this week in Blaine County 5th District Court to determine if the family of two victims of a fatal car crash east of Carey have been financially compensated for their losses.

Judge John K. Butler, who presided over the 2005 case against Cheryl Marie Wise, called the hearing to see if Wise had met restitution requirements ordered in 2006 for the family of Francisco Rojas, formerly of Bellevue.

Rojas, then 37, and his son Julian, then 9, were killed on the evening of July 23, 2005, in a head-on collision with Wise on U.S. Highway 93 about 10 miles east of Carey. Wise later pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Wise, now 30 and formerly of Twin Falls, was originally charged with two counts of second-degree murder. The Blaine County Sheriff's Office and Prosecuting Attorney's Office theorized then that Wise intentionally caused the crash to take her own life and re-create another head-on collision that occurred three days earlier on the same stretch of highway and claimed the life of a Carey man.

Investigators alleged that Wise was romantically involved with Francis Gereau, then 27, who was killed on July 20, 2005, in a head-on crash about two miles from the scene of the collision between Wise and Rojas. Investigation showed that Wise attended Gereau's funeral on July 22, that she visited a cross marking the Gereau accident location on July 23, and that she told a friend in a cell phone conversation shortly before the collision with Rojas that she wanted to die.

Wise was injured in the crash but survived and was arrested on July 29, 2005.

She was also originally charged with five counts of felony aggravated battery for injuring five other members of the Rojas family who survived the crash. Those charges were dismissed in exchange for Wise's pleading guilty to two counts of vehicular manslaughter.

In 2006 Butler ordered that Wise pay restitution of $44,000 to the Rojas family.

In court on Tuesday, Wise attorney Rob Lewis, of Boise, and Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas reported that State Farm, the insurance carrier for Wise, has paid the Rojas family to date about $122,000, including $94,500 for personal injury and another $27,500 for property damage.

Thomas told Butler that the state is satisfied that restitution has been met by the State Farm payments. Butler then instructed Thomas to prepare a "satisfaction of judgment order" that the judge would sign.

Wise is currently listed as an inmate at the Idaho Department of Correction East Boise Community Work Center, a minimum security facility used to help inmates transition back into society.

She was sentenced in 2006 to two 15-year prison sentences, with eight years to be served before parole eligibility. Butler ordered that the sentences be served concurrently.

According to Department of Correction records, Wise is eligible for parole on July 28, 2013.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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