- Date of Crime: 2007-09-23
- Location of crime:
- Sex: F
- Age: 17
Jos?¬© de Jes??s Elizando Balderas
- Sex: M
- Arrest Status: convicted
- Nationality: Mexico
On September 23, 2007, drunk driving, illegal alien, JosÃ© de JesÃºs Elizando Balderas crashed his pickup truck into the median on Interstate 40/85 near Gilford, North Carolina. The car then struck a disabled car parked on the side of the highway, pushing it into another parked car. Seventeen-year-old Crystal Cargua was the driver of a Dodge Neon who had stopped to help a stranded friend, Sylvester McLean. Both were sitting in the Neon while Cargua was calling for a tow truck when they were struck. The impact caused an explosion that engulfed all three vehicles. Cargua, 17, and McLean, 19, were pronounced dead at the scene. Balderas and a passenger in the truck were uninjured.
Witnesses told investigators that 19-year-old Balderas was speeding and driving erratically. State police said Banderas was driving under the influence of alcohol and cocaine and is an illegal alien from Mexico.
Balderas, 19, was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, driving while impaired (DWI), reckless driving, driving without an operatorâ€™s license, consuming alcohol under 21, and failure to maintain his lane. He pleaded guilty to two counts of felony death by motor vehicle and was sentenced to 52 months in prison for felony death by motor vehicle.
Once Banderas serves his sentence, he will be deported to his home country of Mexico.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Parrish said Balderas was sentenced at the highest level for the charges against him. Even if the case had gone to trial, the court would not have been able to give Balderas more prison time than what he pleaded guilty to Tuesday, Parrish said.
When Crystal Cargua and McLean didn't answer their phones, Crystal's family suspected something was wrong. Crystal's older sister and mother then went driving around looking for them. When the women came home, unsuccessful, about 5 p.m., they saw police cars parked in their driveway and found their worst fears confirmed.
Crystalâ€™s father, Manuel Cargua , was choked with grief and anger that an unlicensed driver with no identification documents could be driving and cause an accident that killed his daughter.
"This guy killed two people, and he got five years," Crystal's father, Manuel Cargua, said after the sentencing. â€œThe laws need to be stricter. "People with drugs get 20, 30 years," said Manuel Cargua. "He killed two people and gets not even six years. That's not enough."
Manuel Cargua said. He plans to write President Bush, Gov. Mike Easley and anyone else he can think of and beg that the laws be made even stricter. "I know that won't bring my daughter back," Manuel Cargua said outside the courtroom, "But it can maybe save somebody else's life."
"They are Spanish like us, but we're trying to do the best we can â€” do everything legal," Manuel Cargua said. Cargua's older sister, Stephanie, sobbed when Parrish began citing the details of that day, including that Balderas had cocaine in his system at some point and tested at .08 blood alcohol content.
"We consider him an assassin," Monica Cargua said. "He did manage to escape from the car, and he did not do anything to help my daughter."
Jose Balderas said, despite the maximum sentence, justice was not served.
Manuel Cargua said he worries about what will happen when Balderas is released from prison. Balderas could face deportation back to Mexico where he has a wife and family.
Manuel Cargua believes that won't stop Balderas from returning under a different name.
Documentation:24SEP07, News-Record, Greensboro
Fiery crash leaves 2 dead, by Michelle Jarboe
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Illegal Alien Charged in Death of Two Motorists, by by Angela Rodriguez
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New Info: Two Killed in Chain Reaction Car Crash, by Angela Rodriguez
25SEP07, News-Record, Greensboro
Family grieves for teen, by Sonja Elmquist
13NOV07, WGHP Fox 8 News
Illegal Immigrant Sentenced to 52 Months in DWI Deaths, by Angela Rodriguez