A New Mexico judge accepted a plea deal from a Texas man responsible for killing a man and seriously injuring a teenage girl in a car crash in September 2021, sentencing him to six years of probation.
The El Paso-area man had allegedly been drinking. He drove down New Mexico State Road 28, just on the other side of the border with Texas. Inside his car were 19-year-old Pedro Delgadillo and a 14-year-old girl.
John Apodaca, who was 19 at the time, lost control of the car and hit a tree. Both his passengers, who were not wearing seatbelts, were ejected from the vehicle. Delgadillo died, and the girl was critically injured, according to the Las Cruces Sun-News.
Apodaca ended up pleading guilty to attempted homicide and causing bodily injury with a vehicle as part of a deal with prosecutors. The deal, which the female victim’s family approved, called for Apodaca to complete six years of probation. In doing so, he would avoid serving time in prison. A New Mexico judge decided to sign off on the deal.
While the sentence may appear lenient, an El Paso-based wrongful death attorney, Michael Grossman, commented on the case shortly after the accident in 2021. He notably raised the issue of how the minors obtained alcohol in the first place.
“Now, there are many ways an underage drinker can get their hands on alcohol,” Grossman wrote. “But there are plenty of accidents that involve negligent alcohol providers either neglecting to verify someone’s age or knowingly selling alcohol only for it to result in a devastating accident.”
“Those businesses need to be held accountable for their actions,” he continued. “Not only can they face fines and other penalties, but Texas and New Mexico have similar laws when it comes to victims and families holding the alcohol providers liable.”
The matter of liability over providing alcohol has also recently made headlines in North Texas.
As previously reported in The Dallas Express, a local bartender at a Fuzzy’s Taco Shop in Lake Worth was criminally charged for allegedly overserving alcohol to someone who ended up killing a police officer in a drunk driving incident.
For its part, the City of Dallas has struggled to get a handle on DUI offenses, clocking 1,234 arrests for driving under the influence through mid-November last year, according to The Dallas Morning News.