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12/10/2012 6:00:00 AM
Driver who left woman to die in cemetery sentenced in Kingman
Roland Cook
Roland Cook
Erin Taylor
Miner Staff Reporter

A Peach Springs man characterized as the most culpable in the death of a woman abandoned at a cemetery last year was sentenced Friday to three years in prison, despite the fact that three other co-defendants in the case escaped with probation.

Roland Cook was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and abuse of a vulnerable adult. Prosecutor Jace Zack said Cook was the driver and least drunk out of a group of five people who stopped at a Valentine cemetery on their way back from Kingman in June 2011.

Danielle Sinyella, who at 39 was blind, suffered from diabetes and required a cane to walk, was left behind in 100-degree weather. Her body was discovered three days later by a survey crew doing work in the area.

In the time she was gone, not one person questioned Sinyella's whereabouts, Zack said.

Peach Springs residents Alicia Hunter, Angelina Wilder and Brainard Walema, who were all in the car that day, pleaded guilty abuse of a vulnerable adult.

A Hualapai Tribal Police Officer who testified in the case said Walema barely remembers leaving the cemetery before waking up in the car a few hours later. The officer said Hunter and Wilder didn't remember the incident at all, and couldn't verify that Hunter had also been left behind but hitchhiked home.

The group had reportedly traveled to Bashas' in Kingman and drank half a bottle of vodka on their way back to Peach Springs before stopping at the cemetery at Sinyella's urging to visit the grave of a loved one.

Cook's attorney, Vince Iaonne, acknowledged that Cook was partly responsible for Sinyella's death, but said the intoxicated Sinyella also bore some blame.

"This is the kind of case where everyone needs to look in the mirror and share the blame," Iaonne said. "That includes Roland, that includes Miss Sinyella and that includes the three co-defendants."

Cook told investigators that he was the least drunk of the group but his level of intoxication isn't known. Zack said that the public needs to know that even intoxicated individuals are responsible for their actions. Judge Steven Conn agreed, sentencing Cook to a mitigated sentence of three years out of a possible 8¾ years.

ICT - Dr. Mohtaseb
Related Stories:
• Driver in deadly trip to cemetery pleads guilty in Kingman court
• Four charged in wake of Peach Springs binge that led to woman's death

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Article comment by: Do Your Jobs You Lazy Prosecutors And Judges! !

@ chris b

Before you go defending the judges you may want to look at their sentencing records going back years before said recent Supreme Court precedents.

Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Article comment by: chris b

Before you go attacking the judges you may want to look up the laws, legal system, and recent supreme court precedent.

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012
Article comment by: Do Your Jobs You Lazy Prosecutors And Judges! !

Judge: Steven Conn
Sentence: 3 years

I'm going to start making notes of these slap on the wrist sentences and plea bargains and the judges who agree to them and then you can determine for yourself if there's a pattern with specific judges.

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012
Article comment by: Fair? .

All of the people who were involved should have the same sentence, Also 3 years is not enough time behind bars, when the Danielle is no longer here. Sad story.

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