- Date of Crime: 2006-11-23
- Location of crime:
- Hometown: Columbia, MD
- Sex: M
- Age: 21
Eduardo Raul Morales-Soriano
- Sex: M
- Arrest Status: convicted
- DUI: Perpetrator was DUI or charged with DUI. Perpetrator also had previously been arrested for a DUI.
On November 23, 2006, Thanksgiving, Jennifer Bower, 24, and Brian Matthews, 21, were killed by drunk driving, illegal alien Eduardo Raul Morales-Soriano. According to police, Soriano's vehicle slammed into the rear of Bower’s car as it was stopped at a red light at the intersection of Routes 175 and 108 in Columbia, MD.
Bower, of Montgomery Village, MD, died at the scene. Matthews of Columbia, MD died shortly thereafter at Shock Trauma in Baltimore. Soriano wasn't injured. Court documents showed he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.32 with the legal limit being 0.08.
Matthews graduated from Howard High School in 2003. He was an Eagle Scout. Shortly after graduation he enlisted in the Marines. He served in Ramadi, Iraq, as part of the Fox Company 2nd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment. He had just returned home that day to have Thanksgiving with his family. On Thanksgiving night, he had a second date with Bower who he had been text-messaging from his post at Camp Pendleton, Calif. After a traditional dinner at his parents' house, he was picked up shortly after 10 p.m. by Jennifer Bower. A few minutes later Soriano slammed into their car.
Monday would have been Jennifer Bower’s 25th birthday. Instead, it was the Montgomery Village woman’s funeral.
Several dozen of Bower’s friends gathered in Rockville afterwards to remember and celebrate the Jennifer they knew as infectious and outgoing..
Soriano was charged with two counts of manslaughter while intoxicated and homicide by motor vehicle. In February, Soriano faced charges in Howard County for driving or attempting to drive a vehicle while impaired by alcohol. That case was not prosecuted.
Officials said Soriano had a Maryland driver's license, but is a citizen of Mexico. The Baltimore Sun reported that Morales-Soriano is an illegal immigrant and he was identified as an illegal immigrant by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office in Baltimore. Federal immigration authoritiesfiled an order to detain him, said Jim Dinkins, special agent with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office. Once Morales-Soriano meets his obligations to the state, he will go before an immigration judge for deportation back to Mexico, he explained.
Edwardo Morales-Soriano, 26, pleaded guilty to two counts of negligent manslaughter. He could face up to 20 years in prison, but prosecutors said they are asking for only eight.
Trudy Mathews said her son's three-day trip home was to be a rare moment of peace for her. The accident "came at a time when I was the least worried," she said. "We all felt that he was out of the woods. He had survived Iraq. He was getting out in June. It's unbelievable how a second can change your life. It's a lesson not to take anything for granted."
Childhood friends Melissa Javier and Kelly Rivers said Corporal Mathews, their best friend, would dress up in fatigues or as a Secret Service agent every year for Halloween and when they were just playing in the snow.
He enlisted in the Marines on his 17th birthday, the earliest that he could, said his sister-in-law, Staci Mathews.
"He would make us watch Alien, Terminator and Rambo," said Ms. Rivers, 21, a student at the University of Maryland. "When we were playing in the snow, he'd disappear for a couple of hours and then ambush us in full camouflage with snowballs."
Mathews' fellow Marines are upset over his death. "It's more anger than anything," Cpl. Garrett Farris, 21, of Texas, told the Baltimore Examiner. "A guy goes to war and has no problems with that. He comes back to the States, and it's supposed to be our safe place."
Cpl. Daniel Robinson, 22, of Texas, Mathews' squad leader, recalled the Marine's unflinching performance under fire when their unit walked into an insurgent sniper ambush in Ramadi, Iraq, last year.
"He was beside me the whole time," said Robinson. "He was giving his team commands. He was a perfectionist Marine, and it really showed. We didn't have one casualty or one killed in action in the ambush."
Morales-Soriano used a North Carolina driver's license issued Feb. 5, 2004, to obtain a license in Maryland on July 8, 2005, according to Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. WND has reported on the popularity of North Carolina as a destination for illegal aliens seeking easy access to a driver's license. The state's requirements to obtain a driver's license are weaker than those of many surrounding states, according to a performance audit of the licensing process.
Court officials in New Jersey, for instance, have complained that the requirements are so weak that busloads of illegal immigrants get on I-95 heading south and drive to North Carolina to obtain licenses fraudulently.
The audit, administered by the Department of Transportation and the Division of Motor Vehicles, said documents considered acceptable for proof of residency in North Carolina are easily forged, or the information provided by applicants is not verified.
Documentation:27NOV06, WBAL TV11, Baltimore
Marine, Date Killed In Thanksgiving Crash
28NOV06, WBAL TV11, Baltimore
Marine's Mother: "We Thought He Was Out Of The Woods"
28NOV06, Baltimore Sun
Marine's holiday visit to Md. home turns tragic, by Melissa Harris
30NOV06, Washington POst
Crash Suspect Had Feb. Charge Police Faulted After Earlier Drunken Driving Case Dropped, by Amit R. Paley
2DEC06, World Net Daily
DUI illegal kills Marine home on leave from Iraq
18SEP07, WBAL TV, Baltimore
Illegal Immigrant Pleads Guilty To Killing Marine, Date