Wreckage of last year's accident and Villuendas. Wreckage of last year's accident and Villuendas.

Nine years in jail for accident that killed 4

Court finds driver was inebriated when his car struck a post at 120 km/h

The driver of a car that split in half in an accident last year that left four people dead has been jailed for nine years.

Carlos Salomón Villuendas Adame was behind the wheel of a BMW 6 series coupé when it veered off Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City’s most famous boulevard, at the intersection with Lieja Street and collided with a steel post at about 3:30am March 31, 2017.

Two men and two women died in the crash. Villuendas was the sole survivor.

Yesterday, in addition to receiving a prison sentence of nine years and six months, Villuendas was ordered to pay just over 1.4 million pesos (US $76,000) compensation to the families of three of the four victims.

After a legal process that lasted more than nine months, the assertion presented by Mexico City prosecutors that Villuendas was inebriated at the time of the accident and driving at a speed of more than 120 km/h was upheld in court.

In a courtroom at the Mexico City Superior Court of Justice, a judge ruled that Villuendas was “guilty of the murder of four people with the aggravating circumstance of driving under the influence of alcohol.”

City prosecutors sought the maximum term of 20 years in jail while Villuendas’ defense team argued for the minimum six-year term. Family members of the victims were also hoping for the maximum term to be imposed.

After the sentence was handed down, the legal team for the defendant immediately announced it would appeal against the length of the term.

According to a report in the newspaper El Universal, Villuendas was always attentive to the words of the presiding judge and prosecutors, but barely said a word himself and didn’t allow his eyes to meet those of the victims’ families.

On two occasions the judge asked him to speak but Villuendas said he had nothing to say. When his sentence was handed down, Villuendas didn’t show any outward sign of emotion.

The monetary compensation he was ordered to pay was designated for the recovery of costs such as funeral and autopsy expenses as well as to cover ongoing psychological treatment for the victims’ family members.

Speaking to El Universal after the hearing, family members maintained that they wanted the maximum prison term but said that they were still happy with the sentence that was handed down.  Nevertheless, they too plan to appeal to try to get the term increased.

They added that the judge’s ruling set a precedent and made the risks and consequences associated with drunk driving clear to everyone.

Shortly after the accident, family members of the four victims refused to grant an official pardon to the driver, ensuring that the case proceeded to trial.

The husband of one of the victims, however, said the goal of the victims’ families had always been to seek justice rather than to receive monetary compensation.

“. . . All we were looking for was for justice to be served and it was. The system works, it’s a little bit slow and tedious for a normal person that’s not used to it but overall we can say it was good,” Benito Jiménez said.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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