An Iowa man who struck and injured a pedestrian with his truck in downtown Hot Springs in 2021 was sentenced to six years in prison Friday after a two-day jury trial in Garland County Circuit Court.
The jury deliberated for about an hour before finding Ken Alan Cheno, 56, of Des Moines, Iowa, guilty of leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury or death, and deliberated for another hour before recommending the maximum sentence of six years in prison. and a $10,000 fine, Deputy District Attorney Brock Price told the Sentinel-Record on Friday.
Chino, who listed a Pleasant Hill, Iowa, address at the time, turned himself in to Hot Springs police on December 7, 2021, after a warrant was issued for his arrest following an investigation into the February 14, 2021 incident. He was released later the same day on $10,000 bail. He pleaded not guilty to the charge on April 18, 2022.
On June 9, 2022, Chino’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the victim “was intoxicated with a blood alcohol level of 0.30 and a presumptive positive test for cannabis on a drug test conducted at the hospital.” The motion also indicated another vehicle may have been the one that struck the victim based on one of the 911 calls.
The motion was denied at a hearing on December 12, 2022, and the case was set for trial on March 13. It continued several times until she was finally set for trial on Thursday.
Price said the victim was drunk and “appeared” during the trial, but “(the victim) was not on trial, so it was largely irrelevant.”
Price said that the other vehicle mentioned was “the first vehicle that arrived after the victim was struck and had to swerve to avoid being run over,” noting that the driver of that vehicle then backed off to protect the victim from traffic and waited for the vehicle to arrive. The police arrive.
Cheno made no statement to police after his arrest and did not testify at trial, Price said, noting that his defense was essentially that “while his truck was in the video and he was driving it, he did not hit the victim, but the video showed it.” Obviously he did.”
According to the affidavit of probable cause, on February 14, 2021, police officers responded to the 200 block of Central Avenue in regards to a pedestrian who had been struck by a vehicle.
Officers found a male victim lying in the northbound lanes of downtown south of Fountain Street. The man suffered “serious head injuries” and was transported by LifeNet ambulance to a local hospital for emergency treatment.
Video was obtained from cameras in the downtown area that captured the incident. The video showed two white men leaving a store in the 700 block of downtown and getting into a red Dodge Ram 1500 truck.
The truck then moved northbound downtown toward the victim, who was walking in the northbound outside lane of downtown. The truck hit the victim and left him on the road. The two occupants of the truck then left the area “without making any effort to stop or render assistance to the victim,” the affidavit said.
On March 19, 2021, a truck matching the description shown in the video was found in a public parking lot across from the business in the 700 block of downtown. The truck, a red 2007 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup, was inspected, photographed, and noted to have visible damage and recent repairs consistent with a hit-and-run accident.
The owner of the truck was later identified as Shino and investigators compared his photo to the man seen driving the truck in the video and confirmed that Shino’s physical appearance matched. A warrant was issued for his arrest on October 5, 2021.
When asked about the victim’s condition now, Price said: “He is good; he suffered from fractures of the skull and face, bleeding inside the skull, and some bruises and scratches, but he has recovered. He says he still suffers from some constant pain and back spasms.”
The victim’s mother testified during the guilt phase about her son’s injuries because “we had to prove injury due to guilt,” so the family did not need to testify during the sentencing phase, Price said.