A driver who dragged an 11-year-old girl nearly 500 yards after striking her with his van, leaving her severely injured, pleaded guilty to two felonies.
Mauricio Sanchez, 33, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of criminal vehicular operation resulting in great bodily harm.
State sentencing guidelines call for 18-month stayed sentences for the two counts, but Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said he will ask for a three-year prison sentence.
"We believe this man showed particular cruelty, and his attempt to flee after striking the young girl resulted in life-threatening and permanent debilitating injuries," Backstrom said. "She was close to dying."
Sentencing was set for March 21.
Sixth-grader Gladys Reyes was dragged Jan. 28 in West St. Paul and remains at Regions Hospital in serious condition. Her right arm was amputated because of her injuries.
Sanchez asked to be sentenced immediately because he has been distraught since the accident, said his lawyer, Patrick Cotter. Backstrom said he thinks Sanchez wanted to be sentenced immediately to protect himself from more serious charges, should Reyes' condition worsen.
A native of El Salvador, Sanchez could face deportation proceedings after his sentence.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)