The San Juan Daily Star
Drunk driver given 5 years in prison for running over young women
By The Star Staff
Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández announced Monday that Judge William Machado Aldarondo of the Mayagüez Superior Court sentenced Daniel Ortiz Torres to serve five years in prison, in addition to the payment of $3,300 in fines, after he pleaded guilty to having run over, in a state of drunkenness, Laura Pérez Hernández and Giovanna López Albino on Sept. 27, 2020 at Guanajibo Homes in Mayagüez.
Pérez Hernández lost her left leg in the accident.
The defendant’s defense tried unsuccessfully to challenge the pre-sentencing report so that the conviction would be limited to a home restriction. The Justice secretary’s office, represented by prosecutors José Arocho Soto and André P. Lartigaut Rivera, objected and argued that due to Ortiz Torres’ criminal record, he represents a danger to himself and to society. The court declared that the defense’s request was inadmissible.
“The worst thing about making mistakes is not learning from them,” Arocho Soto said. “Negligent conduct that has no consequences is bound to be repeated. This is the fourth conviction of Daniel Ortiz Torres for driving under the influence of intoxicating beverages. He had previously been fined and offered therapy. He has been given enough opportunities. The accused poses a risk to himself and to society. That is why we ask the court for the maximum penalty; the consequence has to be jail.”
The defendant was also sentenced concurrently to serve three years in prison for the crime of driving under the influence of alcohol, three years for a less serious offense for causing bodily harm to Lisette Hernández Pecunia, mother of victim Laura Pérez Hernández, three years for negligent driving and $1,100 in fines.
In addition, his driver’s license was canceled for the next five years and he was fined $200 for the misdemeanor of driving a motor vehicle without proper authorization (Art. 3.23).
“Justice was finally done for Laura Pérez and Giovanna López,” Emanuelli Hernández said. “We hope that they will also have peace and can heal the pain they have suffered from the negligent and criminal conduct of a person who did not consider the consequences of drunk driving and today will have to pay locked up in prison for his recidivist behavior. We hope this case will serve as a deterrent to other lawbreakers. Our solidarity for both victims and their families.”
The Mayagüez Prosecutor’s Office, led by District Attorney Blanca Portela Martínez, also requested a restitution sentence in favor of the victims. However, the court granted an evidentiary hearing, scheduled for May 24 at 2 p.m., in which the damages suffered by both victims will be evaluated before the court makes a determination on the matter.