SAN FERNANDO – A judge on Wednesday rejected a man’s request to withdraw his no-contest plea to murder and other charges stemming from a 2013 wrong-way crash on the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway that left two people dead, including the pastor of a Lancaster church.
Bradford Pate, 40, faces 23 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Oct. 2.
Pate’s attorney argued that his client did not fully understand the terms of his July no-contest plea to two counts of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI.
Judge Lloyd Nash disagreed and rejected Pate’s request to withdraw the plea.
Pate has a May 2007 DUI conviction from Ventura County, according to the criminal complaint.
Authorities said Pate drove his 2006 Toyota truck south on the northbound lanes of the freeway near Escondido Canyon Road south of Palmdale before dawn June 22, 2013, striking a 2006 Chrysler being driven by the Rev. Manard Giles.
Giles, the 77-year-old pastor of The Answer Community Church of God in Christ in Lancaster, was killed in the crash. A passenger in Giles’ car, Mattie Lee Ferguson, 60, of Lancaster, died later, authorities said.
A second passenger was trapped in the minister’s vehicle until rescuers freed him, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
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