Snohomish man pleads not guilty in Lynnwood girl’s death

EVERETT — A Snohomish man accused of being drunk when he hit and killed a 16-year-old Lynnwood girl in May will be allowed to stay out of jail while he awaits trial.

Micah Pelton, 33, made his first court appearance since being charged with vehicular homicide and vehicular assault last month. He pleaded not guilty to the charges Tuesday in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Prosecutors allege Pelton was intoxicated May 23 when he lost control of his pickup truck and smashed into Janelle Cooper and her friend, also 16, who were walking on a Lynnwood sidewalk.

Janelle was pinned between Pelton’s truck and a concrete barrier. She died at the scene.

The other girl suffered a broken pelvis and concussion. She continues to have memory problems, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Ed Stemler wrote in court papers.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Cowsert ordered Pelton to stay away from bars and liquor stores. He also banned Pelton from having any contact with the surviving victim.

Pelton also was ordered not to have any traffic tickets or face being jailed. Since the crash, police have cited Pelton four times for traffic infractions, according to court documents. Those infractions include driving without a license, speeding and talking on a cell phone while driving.

Janelle’s mother, Coleen Cooper, was in the courtroom Tuesday. She was surrounded by friends as she got her first look at the man accused of killing her daughter.

Prosecutors say Pelton had a blood-alcohol level 1 1/2 times the legal limit after the crash. If convicted, Pelton faces more than seven years behind bars.

Investigators allege Pelton was traveling between bars when the crash happened. They also believe he was driving erratically before his truck jumped a curb and smashed into Janelle and her friend, a Mountlake Terrace High School sophomore at the time.

He was stopped next to a carload of friends who also were headed from Waldo’s Tavern to Jett Tavern, reports said. Witnesses reported that Pelton revved his engine and made faces at the group in the other car, Stemler wrote.

Pelton reportedly lost control as he turned a corner and the truck jumped a curb. The pickup plowed into the girls.

Janelle suffered fatal head injuries.

Pelton has declined to speak with investigators about the crash, Stemler wrote.

The Snohomish man is a convicted sex offender. He also has a misdemeanor conviction for first-degree negligent driving, stemming from another drunken-driving incident, Stemler wrote in court papers.

Janelle, known to the many who loved her as “Choubiiee” and “Nelly-Belly,” was a sophomore at Scriber Lake High School in Mountlake Terrace.

Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or hefley@heraldnet.com.

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