BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Convicted of murder in a drunken driving crash, Jesus Rodriguez Moreno was given an opportunity in court to express remorse and apologize to the victim’s family.
He didn’t take it.
Instead, Moreno, 56, denied responsibility for driving with a blood-alcohol content three times the legal limit as he swerved across Highway 184 in Lamont and struck David Rosales Rico. The 39-year-old died at the scene.
At his sentencing hearing Tuesday, Moreno, who has four prior DUI convictions, told Superior Court Judge John W. Lua he doesn’t feel responsible for the crimes with which he’s been convicted. He said he doesn’t think he deserves such a “heavy” penalty, and claimed there was a witness important to his case who wasn’t called to testify.
Before sentencing Moreno to 20 years to life in prison, Lua noted there were “mass volumes” of evidence against him.
Among the evidence: Moreno’s SUV sustained a shattered windshield and other damage; Rico’s blood was on the exterior of the vehicle; and a trail of vehicle fluid led officers from the crash scene to the SUV, where they found Moreno passed out in the driver’s seat.
“To not take responsibility at this last hour is not only surprising to this court, but I’m sure to your family members and the members of the victims’ family who are present,” Lua said.
Rico’s mother, Sara Rosales, said her son leaves behind two children, ages 8 and 5. The 5-year-old doesn’t yet understand his father’s gone forever, but Rosales said her 8-year-old granddaughter suffers from the loss.
Rosales, 62, said she tells her granddaughter to pray and ask for God’s help.
“It gives me more peace because I know he’ll never hurt anyone else again,” Rosales said of the prison term Moreno received.
Moreno had already crashed once and left the scene before hitting Rico the night of June 3, 2017 on Highway 184, north of Buena Vista Boulevard. He again fled the scene after hitting Rico.
Officers followed the fluid trail and found him about 1.6 miles from the fatal crash.
Upon waking up Moreno, officers noticed a strong odor of alcohol coming from him. His eyes were red and watery and his speech slurred.
Moreno failed field sobriety tests and was arrested. Blood-alcohol tests returned readings of 0.24 and 0.25 percent, far above the state legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Prosecutor Garrett Rice called Moreno’s actions extremely selfish, and said his comments in court show a continued lack of understanding of the seriousness of his actions.
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