Driver who was high on meth during fatal crash sentenced to 10 years in prison

CHULA VISTA - A man who admitted being high on methamphetamine when he ran a red light and crashed his car into a Poway fire truck, killing his 19-year-old passenger, was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison.

Robbie Dean Gillespie, 45, pleaded guilty in September to gross vehicular manslaughter while under the influence of drugs and possession of methamphetamine.

On Friday, South Bay Judge Dwayne Moring denied Gillespie's motion to withdraw his guilty plea, according to Deputy District Attorney Dan Link.

Gillespie's attorney, Bonita Martinez, argued her client should have been able to withdraw the plea, because he had a history of mental illness and suffers from obstructive sleep apnea.

Martinez said doctors recommended that Gillespie should not drive, but he wasn't told that.

"As a result of the severe obstructive sleep apnea, he was actually rendered unconscious during that unfortunate incident that occurred in the collision with the fire truck," Martinez said earlier this month.

Gillespie was arrested last Aug. 1 at his home in the 12000 block of Alta Carmel Court in Rancho Bernardo for the death of Evelyn Courtney, an aspiring fashion model.

Link said Gillespie was arrested two days before the fatal crash for having 1.8 grams of meth in a Poway hotel room. Two men and two women, 18 and 19 years old, were also in the room. Gillespie bailed out of jail the next morning and admitted using meth and marijuana while free, Link said.

On June 20 about 4 a.m., Gillespie got in a car with Courtney, whom he described as a friend, and was under the influence of meth when he ran a red light and his car collided with a fire truck going about 40 mph. Courtney died at the scene. Gillespie was freed from the wreckage and hospitalized.

Gillespie was arrested but not charged until a traffic investigation was completed. In interviews with news outlets, Gillespie said he was taking Courtney home when the accident happened.

An open alcoholic beverage container was found in Gillespie's Honda Accord, sheriff's deputies said.

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