Jonathan Peña sentenced in reckless driving death of Portland mom Ashlee McGill

Jonathan Peña sentenced in reckless driving death of Portland mom Ashlee McGill
Jonathan Peña sentenced in reckless driving death of Portland mom Ashlee McGill

U.S. News

By Nicholas McEntyre

Published
May 6, 2024, 5:59 am ET

A grieving mother is making her frustration known after an Oregon court handed her daughter’s killer a “light” sentence for speed racing through a Portland neighborhood before losing control and crashing into her daughter, who was waiting for a bus.

Jonathan Peña became the latest motorist to benefit from a new Oregon law that hands reckless drivers one-year prison sentences, with repeat offenders seeing a maximum of five behind bars.

Peña, who pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide in the death of 26-year-old Ashlee McGill, was sentenced to three years in jail on Friday.

McGill’s mother was angry when she learned the fate of her daughter’s killer.

“It was definitely too light,” Misty Nicholson told KATU News outside the courtroom on Friday. “I think that if they are trying to get people to stop speed racing, that’s not going to do it. It’s not going to do it at all. I think he got maybe a time out. But that really wasn’t a sentence.”

Ashlee McGill was killed after a speeding car lost control and crashed into the bench she was sitting on in Portland on Aug. 27, 2022. Facebook/Ashlee Diane McGill

On Aug. 27, 2022 at around 5:30 am, Peña was racing his Mustang against another vehicle at speeds of over 80 mph down Stark Street in Southeast Portland.

At one point the two cars collided, causing Peña to lose control of his car, sending it off the road.

The speedster jumped the curb and struck 26-year-old Ashlee McGill, who was waiting at a bus stop near the corner of Southeast Stark Street and Southeast 133rd Avenue.

The young mother, who was sitting on a bench, was instantly killed as Peña’s car crashed into a tree.

Jonathan Peña pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide in the death of 26-year-old Ashlee McGill and was sentenced to three years in jail on May 3, 2024. KGW
Peña’s Mustang crashed into the car he was racing, causing his Mustang to lose control and jump the curb at a bus stop near the corner of Southeast Stark Street and Southeast 133rd Avenue. KGW

Peña, who was hospitalized after the crash, was indicted on a second-degree manslaughter charge, to which he pleaded not guilty.

The charge was eventually reduced to criminally negligent homicide, and the driver changed his plea to guilty.

During his arraignment on Friday, Peña was handed additional charges for recklessly endangering another person and reckless driving, both misdemeanors, according to court records viewed by The Post.

McGill’s mother, Misty Nicholson blasted Peña’s actions while addressing the Portland courtroom on Friday. KGW
The young mother was waiting for the bus when the crash happened at around 5:30 am on Aug. 27, 2022. Facebook/Ashlee Diane McGill

Because of time already served, Peña was sentenced to 36 months behind bars, three years post-release supervision and five years’ probation.

He was ordered to pay at least $5,000 restitution, according to KATU News.

McGill’s mother blasted Peña’s actions while addressing the Portland courtroom on Friday.

“I do hope for the rest of your life, every time you close my eyes you see my daughter and remember what you did to her,” Nicholson said, according to KGW 8.

“She had a son that she loved and she lived for. “She had a contagious laugh and a smile that would light up a room.”

Peña later asked for forgiveness from his victim’s family, saying she deserved justice.

“I feel like I owe it to you, to your family to endure every trial and tribulation that comes with this to ensure that you as a family feel that justice for Ashlee is served,” he said.

“She had a son that she loved and she lived for. She had a contagious laugh and a smile that would light up a room,” McGill’s mother said. Facebook/Ashlee Diane McGill
The young mother, who was sitting on a bench, was instantly killed as Peña’s car crashed into a tree. KGW

Peña is the second person to be sentenced involving McGill’s death.

In Sept. 2023, the driver of the other car, Kenneth Freeman, 35, pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and was sentenced to five years in prison, according to KOIN.

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