gavel.jpgTwo men charged in connection with a 2006 crash that killed a San Francisco police officer during a high-speed chase agreed today to plea offers of 15 years in state prison, a district attorney’s office spokesman said.

Carl Lather, 25, and Nicholas Smith, 26, both of San Francisco, received the 15-year sentences in San Francisco Superior Court this morning in a deal agreed upon by the defense and prosecution, spokesman Seth Steward said.

Steven Petrilli, 24, also of San Francisco, was sentenced last week by Judge Newton Lam to life in prison without the possibility of parole for his role in the July 26, 2006 crash, which killed police Officer Nick-Tomasito Birco.

Petrilli was driving a stolen van and fleeing police after committing four robberies in the city that night when he struck Birco’s patrol car at a speed believed to have been more than 50 mph at an intersection in a residential neighborhood in the Portola District.
Birco was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later.

A jury convicted Petrilli last September of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery, evading police, and gross vehicular manslaughter.

Lather and Smith were the other two men in the van. They would have faced jury trials on robbery and murder charges if they hadn’t agreed to the plea deal in today’s hearing in Lam’s court.

The deal includes 11 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter and one year for each of the four robberies, Steward said.

District Attorney George Gascon and Assistant District Attorney Eric Fleming spoke with Birco’s family prior to the plea deal, and they approved, Steward said.

Fleming said outside court earlier this week, when the plea deal was announced, that the family did not want to go through another trial.

“Their main concern was to have the driver punished for the death of their loved one. They believe 15 years is a just punishment for their culpability,” he said.

Want more news, sent to your inbox every day? Then how about subscribing to our email newsletter? Here’s why we think you should. Come on, give it a try.

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!