DA: Vehicular homicide cases hard to prove

DWI Car crash
A recent case is sparking new questions about whether the law goes far enough to punish dangerous drivers.

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) –  A recent case is sparking new questions about whether the law goes far enough to punish dangerous drivers. Police said Anthony Ramos was drag racing when he hit and killed an Albuquerque woman in 2012. Last week a jury found him guilty of careless driving, not vehicular homicide. That means Ramos faces a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail instead of the possible six year prison sentence for vehicular homicide.

Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said it was a game changer when the other driver in the case testified they weren’t drag racing.

“Certainly if they were drag racing, people would understand that’s reckless. But if there’s no indication that they were drag racing, that it was an accident that happened, the jury could empathize with the defendant and find for the lesser,” Brandenburg said.

That’s what happened in Ramos’ trial. Brandenburg told News 13 in order for prosecutors to secure a vehicular homicide conviction, the driver either has to be intoxicated or prosecutors have to be able to prove the subject was knowingly driving recklessly. She said prosecutors in reckless driving cases only secure a conviction about 50-percent of the time.

It’s something we’ve seen in the past. In 2010 Dave Anderson was riding bikes with his wife on a path off of Paseo Del Norte when Miranda Pacheco’s vehicle flew off the road, killing him. Prosecutors said Pacheco was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic before the crash, but a jury found Pacheco guilty of careless driving.

She served her 90 days in jail, and has since been arrested for driving while intoxicated and stealing a purse.

Anderson’s widow has pushed for stronger sentences for cases of careless driving involving death or great bodily harm.

“The criminal penalty is not enough to make an impact on the offender, get their attention, and change their behavior. It is too minimal, and there needs to be a greater criminal penalty,” Sherry Anderson told News 13.

Another high profile reckless driving case is on the horizon. The case of Adam Casaus, the former Albuquerque Police sergeant who ran a red light in 2012, killing a woman, is scheduled to go to trial Monday.

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