Hitchhiker accused of attacking driver pleads guilty to robbery charges

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A man accused of attacking a good Samaritan and stealing her car keys accepted a plea deal Tuesday and is now facing a decade behind bars.

Clarence Pate pleaded guilty to robbery charges for taking victim Whitney Hodges' keys. He was facing additional charges of second-degree kidnapping, second-degree assault, third-degree assault, attempted first-degree assault, and harassment, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by 11 News.

Hodges told 11 News she came upon Pateon Feb. 7, hobbling and clutching his hand while screaming for help.

"He seemed like he was hit, he really had me convinced," Hodges said.

Hodges picked him up near Peterson and Platte in Colorado Springs. As they approached Chelton, he attacked her.

"All of a sudden he just sits straight up and he's like 'I need you to pull over,'" Hodges recalled.

She listened and pulled over the vehicle.

"As I'm grabbing my backpack I have the door kind of cracked open, I grabbed the keys and jump out, as I try, he pulls me back," Hodges said.

Records show Pate was on parole. He has been since 2017 after he served time for other crimes. The same year he was released, his file from DOC shows he was kicked out of a parole program for non-compliance.

That's just the beginning. The next year, March of 2018, documents show he was warned for "seriously risking being placed in front of the parole board" for not following guidelines. The next month he was jailed for it, only for one day.

When he was let out, the pattern continued for over a year all the way to February 2019, the month of the attack. Less than 24 hours before Hodges picked him up, documents show Pate had three run-ins with law enforcement but was not arrested.

The morning Hodges was attacked, his parole report says that neighbors complained that Pate was knocking on doors and telling them he was high on meth. An officer wrote at the time that he could not be arrested because he had not done anything illegal.

Just an hour before the attack, an officer wrote in a separate entry "unless he can be booked on a new charge we cannot arrest him due to jail overcrowding."

"I can't believe it, I'm still trying to register that, that even happened, I can't even believe, he put all that effort in and look what he got, he got thrown in jail," Whitney said.

11 News reached out to the DOC to ask why Pate was allowed to stay on parole even with all these violations. A spokesperson sent us the following statement:

"Parole Officers are required to utilize interventions prior to seeking revocation of a parolee that is non-compliant with his or her conditions of parole. Progressive sanctions and interventions were being utilized in his supervision."

In court Tuesday, Pate told the judge he had apologized to all of his victims for his actions. His defense team argued the events of Feb. 7 were out of character, as previous convictions were never violent.

The prosecution said had Pate not accepted the plea deal, the case likely would have gone to trial, with 18 years in prison potentially on the table.

The judge said Tuesday that after Pate serves his 10 years, he'll be on parole for three more years.