Cass County Judge Wade Webb sentenced Daniel Aaron Dal Pozzo, 35, on Monday, July 6, to 20 years, the maximum penalty for a Class A felony of criminal vehicular homicide. Eight years of that sentence was suspended.
Dal Pozzo pleaded guilty on Monday to criminal vehicular homicide and a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief for causing recklessly causing damage connected to the June 22, 2019, death of 38-year-old Fargo hair stylist Johnny Grey.
Dal Pozzo drove the vehicle into the wrong lane and struck several parked vehicles that were unoccupied 1400 block of 10th Street Southwest in West Fargo, according to a criminal complaint filed Oct. 4 in Cass County District Court.
Grey, who was Dal Pozzo’s passenger, died at the scene. Dal Pozzo was taken to a hospital to be treated for injuries, prosecutors said.
A chemical test revealed Dal Pozzo had a blood alcohol content of 0.212%, prosecutor Katherine Naumann said in court. The legal limit to drive is .08%
The 12-year prison term was two years more than the minimum sentence recommended by both the defense and prosecution in a plea agreement. The judge said he didn’t feel comfortable giving Dal Pozzo only the mandatory minimum, especially since the defendant had previous convictions for driving under the influence in North Dakota, Minnesota and Washington.
Despite being told Dal Pozzo could withdraw his guilty plea after being warned he could receive a harsher sentence, he decided to accept his punishment. He said he had no other choice but to plead guilty to the charges.
“I did what I did, and I have to own up to my actions,” he said.
Two other charges of criminal mischief and a DUI count, all misdemeanors, were dismissed.
He also was sentenced Monday to time served after pleading guilty to charges of domestic violence and interfering with a 911 call. According to prosecutors, Dal Pozzo broke three phones belonging to his then-girlfriend on Aug. 12 after she said she would call the police. He also was accused of wrestling with the woman and throwing her on a bed.
Naumann said there was an indication that alcohol also was involved in that case.
“My head was in a bad spot because I just lost my best friend (Grey),” Dal Pozzo said of the domestic incident.
The court received several letters of support for Dal Pozzo in connection to the criminal vehicular homicide case, as well as victim impact statements. Grey’s father, John Grey Sr., took the stand on Monday to talk about how he felt when he heard his son had died.
“It ripped me apart, knowing I’ll never have him again,” Grey Sr. said.
Grey Jr.’s wife, Emma, said Dal Pozzo could have chosen not to drive that day and called upon him to do better.
“It’s one thing to crash with a stranger, but you did this to one of your best friends,” she said.
Dal Pozzo hugged and kissed family and friends before the hearing started and waved to them as he was taken into custody to serve his sentence.