Nathaniel Saltclah, 24, will be facing more than six years in prison when he is sentenced for vehicular homicide, a third-degree felony, and two misdemeanors for the drunken driving crash in Farmington that killed one of Saltclah's passengers and injured two others.
About 9 p.m. on Feb. 6, Saltclah collided his Pontiac Grand Prix into a maroon pickup truck. After the accident Saltclah told police he had been drinking vodka and malt liquor.
Saltclah was driving east in the westbound lane of West Murray Drive near the intersection of South Lake Street when the crash occurred.
Samuel Antonio, one of Saltclah's passengers, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Saltclah and two others passengers, Samuelson Antonio and Orlando Etcitty, were taken by ambulance to San Juan Regional Medical Center.
Samuelson Antonio and Etcitty each had a broken leg.
The two passengers in the pickup truck were taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries, according to court documents.
Saltclah's jury trial had been scheduled to begin Aug. 21 in Aztec District Court before Saltclah changed his plea on Monday.
"He thought there was sufficient proof available to convict him," said Jay Faurot, Saltclah's attorney.
As part of the plea agreement, the district attorney's office dismissed additional felony charges for DWI causing great bodily harm.
Saltclah has been released from jail on bond March 19 and has received alcohol treatment and is taking college courses, Faurot said.
"He is striving hard to do what he thinks is right," Faurot said.
Saltclah told police that before the crash he had been taking shots of vodka and drinking Four Loco malt liquor.
His blood alcohol content at the time of the crash was about .16, which is twice the legal limit for a driver, O'Brien said.
All the passengers in Saltclah's vehicle were adults and they all had been drinking that night, but that doesn't decrease Saltclah's criminal culpability, O'Brien said.
The district attorney's office will meet with the victims and their families and the office will make a recommendation to the court during Saltclah's sentencing hearing, which is yet to be scheduled.