An 18-year-old motorist who raced another teenage driver on state Route 52, resulting in a crash that killed two people, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony charge of engaging in a speed contest and will be sentenced to 180 days in jail.
Michael S. Johnson will be formally sentenced Oct. 10, but will likely begin serving his time in custody on Sept. 21, said his attorney, Russell Babcock.
"He wants to get this matter behind him; he wants to go on with his life," Babcock said outside court. "It's been a tragic set of circumstances for everyone."
Johnson, a graduate of Santana High School, pleaded guilty on the day his case was to go to trial. He will be placed on three years probation, to include random drug testing and volunteer work with Mothers Against Drunk Driving or some other program that focuses on driving-related crimes.
Zach Bishop, the 16-year-old driver who Johnson was racing, was prosecuted in Juvenile Court. He pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter resulting in death and was sentenced to a year in custody at a Juvenile facility in Campo.
Authorities said the two motorists were racing at speeds up to 100 mph on eastbound state Route 52 about 11:45 p.m. last April 4 when the younger driver lost control of his Volkswagen Passat and crashed, killing 16-year-old Jayli Campbell and 18-year-old Anthony Foreman.
Bishop's 15-year-old girlfriend, who was a passenger in the Passat, suffered a serious brain injury and spent five days in a coma, but survived. Another passenger was seriously injured. The two carloads of tens were heading home from a bonfire at La Jolla Shores.
Foreman's father said Tuesday's plea from Johnson is an opportunity for the families of the victims to move forward with their lives and allow them to heal.
"Justice is going to play out," Mark Foreman said. "He (Johnson) has decisions to make in his world, including serving 180 days as the judge stated, and then fulfilling his probation obligations. He's got challenges and I recognize those challenges. They're strong. It's up to him to do it."
Johnson faces a maximum of three years in state prison should he violate probation, said Deputy District Attorney Kristen Spieler.
"I just hope that this case does send a message -- a clear message to people, particularly young people -- that even if you are not driving the car that crashes, if you or your driving contributed to that collision ... you share responsibilities for the injuries that occur," Spieler said.