Man pleads guilty in fatal crash

A man arrested for vehicular homicide in late 2011 has pleaded guilty.

Shiro Remeliik, 23, of Marshalltown, pleaded guilty to the Class B felony Thursday afternoon. He will serve no more than 25 years in prison.

In the early morning hours of Dec. 29, 2011, Remeliik drove the black Kia belonging to his friend and passenger Gabriel Speas, 21, of Marshalltown, into a tree while heading eastbound in the 700 block of Summit Street. The county medical examiner pronounced Speas dead on scene. Police interviews indicate that Remeliik was traveling between 50 and 90 mph at the time of the crash.

Remeliik said little to Judge James Ellefson when asked a series of questions to ensure that he understood the proceeding and that, by pleading guilty, he was forfeiting some of his constitutional rights.

The only deviation from Remeliik replying “yes sir” and “no sir” came when Ellefson was making a factual finding that there is a basis for Remeliik’s pleading guilty.

When asked specifically as to how fast he was driving that night, Remeliik said “It’s doesn’t matter none.” Ellefson would later say that Remeliik apparently told the police officer in the emergency room the night of the crash that “It doesn’t matter what happens to me now, I just killed my best friend.”

Remeliik admitted that he and Speas had been drinking brandy all night, but police refused to provide his blood-alcohol content at the time of the crash, simply saying that it exceeded the legal limit of .08.

At the time of the crash, Remeliik was already on probation for previous alcohol-related assaults. Ellefson, upon the recommendation of the Marshall County Attorney’s Office, revoked Remeliik’s probation and determined that each of the two-year sentences for those aggravated misdemeanors would be served consecutive to one another but concurrent to the felony for the vehicular homicide, meaning Remeliik will serve no more than 25 years in prison.

Because the crime is a forcible felony, bail is unavailable.

Remeliik forfeited his right to file an appeal in arrest of judgment by accepting a sentencing Thursday. He will be required to complete a course on drinking and driving, submit to alcohol treatment – both at his own expense – reimburse the state for its time and pay $150,000 in restitution to Speas’s family.

Speas’s mother, Diane Speas, made a victim impact statement, saying she forgives Remeliik for his crime and that she hopes he finds God in prison. She thanked him for accepting responsibility.

“We are the same. I make mistakes, and you make mistakes,” she said. “We are human.”

Ellefson said in his short time on the bench and his many years as a litigator he has seen many people he would consider “evil.”

“I don’t have that feeling here,” he said.

Remeliik will get credit for time served for the year he spent in custody at the Marshall County Jail. His attorney, Scott Hunter, asked the judge to consider waving the $18,000 in jail costs incurred since Remeliik’s incarceration so that he is better able to provide restitution to Speas’s family.

While Ellefson said he is open to the idea, he is unsure he has the authority to wave that fee. He prompted both Assistant County Attorney Paul Crawford and Hunter to provide any reasoning for or against that possibility.