Trucker Faces Life In Prison After Fight With Brother Over Cheating Lover Ends In Crash
Franklin County, Washington – A trucker is facing life in prison after a road rage battle with his brother over a love interest in 2018 resulted in numerous charges.
Truck driver Felipe Pruneda, 43, is charged with first- and second-degree assault with domestic violence; bail jumping; witness tampering and conspiracy stemming from a dangerous road rage altercation with his brother, 38-year-old Rafael Pruneda, in February 2018.
Franklin County prosecutors say if Felipe is convicted on the charges later this month, they will seek a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole under the Persistent Offender Accountability Act because he has two prior convictions for serious crimes.
A Transportation Nation Network (TNN) investigation has learned Felipe has twice been convicted of rape in the third degree.
The first conviction occurred in 1995 and the second was in 2003.
Rafael is also facing witness tampering charges after prosecutors say he tried to get a witness to change his story to authorities about what happened in the altercation with his brother.
So, What Happened?
The incident occurred on February 12, 2018 along Highway 260 near Connell, WA.
According to court documents, Rafael suspected his girlfriend was cheating on him with Felipe.
Further, Rafael suspected his girlfriend was with Felipe inside of Felipe’s 2004 Peterbilt.
At approximately 7 a.m. Rafael located Felipe’s truck traveling along Highway 395 and was intent on catching them red-handed.
Court documents indicate Rafael took the Connell exit in his 2005 Hyundai and Felipe followed in the semi.
Rafael then parked at the off-ramp stop sign and got out of his car to approach the truck.
However, Felipe did not stop.
According to prosecutors, Felipe’s Pete struck the Hyundai’s rear bumper and kept right on going.
The semi blew a front right tire in the collision, according to court records.
Felipe then turned right onto Highway 260 as an incensed Rafael returned to his car and followed behind.
Prosecutors say Rafael quickly caught up with the disabled semi and pulled ahead to the next intersection where he parked along the shoulder to once again wait for his brother.
He exited his vehicle and for the second time began approaching the semi.
Court documents say Rafael told authorities that Felipe then steered the semi in his direction and hit the gas.
Rafael then says he quickly jumped back into the car before the semi came crashing into his vehicle.
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Rafael was not seriously injured in the crash and immediately ran to the semi-truck to discover his girlfriend in the sleeper.
According to court records, the woman told authorities she awoke to Rafael cursing at her.
Felipe told investigators the girl was with him because Rafael abuses her.
Further, Felipe blamed Rafael for spreading lies about him that resulted in the demise of his marriage, case documents say.
When questioned by investigators about what led to the crash, Felipe first told authorities he did not know who was in the Hyundai.
Felipe claimed the driver of the Hyundai brake checked him and he was unable to avoid the collisions.
However, investigators say Felipe later admitted to knowing his brother was the driver of the Hyundai and he let “his anger and emotion (get) the best of him.”
Rafael Changes Story
In June 2019, Franklin County prosecutors told the court they would be seeking a life sentence for Felipe if convicted.
According to prosecutors, Rafael then sought out a corroborating witness to the scene of the crash in an effort to have the witness change his story.
The witness was on a tractor about 100 yards south of the intersection at the time of the crash.
According to case documents, he corroborated Rafael’s story that Felipe intentionally struck the Hyundai.
In June, the witness reported to authorities that Rafael had tracked him to his home address and begged him to change his testimony.
“We have to change the story so it doesn’t look so bad,” the witness told officials Rafael said to him.
The witness asserted Rafael expressed fear that he would be ostracized from his family if Felipe is sent to jail for the rest of his life.
Rafael was subsequently charged with felony witness tampering and conspiracy, a gross misdemeanor.
He is out of jail on $5,000 bail and is scheduled to enter a plea in Franklin County Superior Court in mid-August.
Felipe’s trial is set to begin August 28.
He is being held on $150,000 bail.
Both Rafael and Felipe have been ordered to have no contact with the witness while their cases are pending.
TNN will continue to follow these cases.
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