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Biedscheid gets 90 days in Bend hit-and-run death

By Nina Mehlhaf
Published On: Jun 10 2013 08:34:17 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 11 2013 09:41:56 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Nina Mehlhaf reports on a $525,000 civil lawsuit settlement on the eve of sentencing of Bret Biedscheid in the Jan. 2011 hit-and-run death of Tony Martin.

BEND, Ore. -

A Bend man was sentenced Tuesday to a 90-day county jail term, three years probation and 500 hours of community service for leaving the scene of a deadly hit-and-run crash in January 2011.

Under terms of a plea deal reached last month, Bret Biedscheid, 40, director of accounting for Les Schwab Tire Centers, changed his plea to guilty on one of two charges against him -- failure to perform duties of a driver -- in exchange for dropping a charge of criminally negligent homicide.

Deschutes County Circuit Judge Roger DeHoog ordered Biedscheid to report to the county jail on Wednesday, and said his driver's license will be revoked for five years from the day of his release.

Biedscheid was driving his pickup truck when it struck and killed Anthony "Tony" Martin, 48, as he pushed his bicycle across Third Street north of Revere Avenue. He did not stop, and Martin died at the scene.

Days later, Biedscheid's lawyer, Stephen Houze of Portland, contacted Bend police to say it was his client's truck, which was then turned over to police.

Family and friends of both Biedscheid and Martin filled the courtroom for Tuesday's sentencing.

Martin's sister, Teresa Gibbs of Madras, requested the maximum prison sentence possible.

The charge Biedscheid pleaded guilty to carried a maximum possible prison term of 12 to 16 months.

Martin's friend, David Krause, looked at Biedscheid in the courtroom as he tearfully read a letter, calling him a "coward."

But Houze told the court that Biedscheid did not cause Martin's death, saying the victim had a .22 blood-alcohol count at the time of his death, as well as methamphetamine and marijuana in his system. He said Martin caused his own death, crossing the dark street while drunk and high.

Several of Biedscheid's friends read statements in court, testifying to his character, work ethic and "family man" qualities.

When Biedscheid's time came to speak, he told the judge and courtroom audience, "I accept full responsibility" for what happened, and expressed "great remorse."

Biedscheid told Martin's family and friends he was "deeply sorry," and that he would understand if they never forgave him.

"It's hard to convey the sorrow that I feel," he said, adding that he was undergoing therapy for depression.

Biedscheid said he plans to perform his community service at the Bethlehem Inn homeless shelter, having chosen that organization as appropriate, due to Martin's history.

DeHoog said he must impose sentence based on the charge Biedscheid admitted to, not anything else.

Prosecutors had asked for a 16-month prison sentence, but the judge said that Biedscheid had no record, except for a 1997 DUII case, and thus qualified for the lower end of the sentencing guidelines.

Outside the courtroom, DA Patrick Flaherty said it would have been "nearly impossible" to prove a criminally negligent homicide charge, based on the  evidence, noting that Martin was wearing dark clothing and had used alcohol and drugs before crossing the dark street, away from a crosswalk.

As for people who believe Biedscheid got away with killing someone, Flaherty said you have to look at it from a legal standpoint, and what he was charged with and admitted to -- leaving the scene of the crash.

On Monday, Gibbs learned of a $525,000 settlement of a civil wrongful-death lawsuit the family filed against Biedscheid.

Gibbs spoke to the media Monday about the civil suit settlement. She said she was exhausted, waiting this long for closure for her brother.

"A lot of tears have been shed in 2 1/2 years over this," Gibbs said. "How do you prepare for this (criminal sentencing) especially without closure?"

Because the deal averted a criminal trial, the wrongful death lawsuit filed by his sister won't proceed, either.

On Monday, she learned that she and Martin's three daughters will get $525,000.

"He was excited about having that little girl in his life. Its too bad it was cut so short," Gibbs said at the Bend office of her attorney, Tom D'Amore.

Martin's 3-year-old daughter, Sadie Martin, now will have a trust account for college, as well as Tony Martin's two other adult daughters.

"I'm not in a forgiveness place," Gibbs explained. "I do want some answers. An apology from him (Biedscheid) would be very nice and help the family toward closure. I would like to know exactly how he's doing about this whole situation, about what he did to my brother."

Sworn civil case affidavits from bartenders say Biedscheid was drunk at the former Black Horse Saloon in northeast Bend when he got in his truck.

Martin was walking his bike across Third Street near Revere Avenue when he was hit late that night. Biedscheid, who was busted for DUI in 1997 in Oregon, was seen tapping his brakes on surveillance video, then took off.

D'Amore showed NewsChannel 21 two police evidence photos of Biedscheid's truck, with markers pointing to where Martin's bike tire hit the front bumper.

"Then up on the hood, based on the property damage, this is where Mr. Martin's head struck before he was thrown off," D'Amore pointed out. "It's not one of those situations where you don't know you hit someone."

"He should have stopped and helped my brother Tony," Gibbs said emphatically. "Even if he couldn't be helped because of his injuries, he should have stopped."

Gibbs says her brother was a great dad, loved hunting and fishing and was a mechanic, enrolled at COCC to get his certification.  She's angry that after two years of delays, her brother's killer is getting off on the homicide charge.

"If anybody else is put in that situation, please stop the car and get out and help. Absolutely no drinking and driving, absolutely. It cost my brother his life."

D'Amore said, "It seems as if this guy is going to get off a little bit too easy in all respects. It almost seems like he did what's in his best interest, to wait two days to come forward (after the crash). It almost seems like it was in his best interest to kill this man and leave the scene, and it doesn't send a very good message."

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