Danny Sanchez and his daughter Megan
A New Mexico man sent to prison six years ago for killing a motorcyclist while driving drunk is back in jail on the same charges, this time for a crash that killed the brother of the judge who sentenced him.
The accident Saturday happened after a witness told KOB-TV that she called 911 twice to report seeing Jacob Williams, 27, driving erratically around her neighborhood near the town of Belen, about 30 miles south of Albuquerque.
But deputies failed to respond before a pickup that authorities said was driven by Williams veered over a center line, killing Daniel Sanchez, 51, and seriously injuring his 11-year-old daughter, Megan.
According to the criminal complaint, breath tests found Williams’ blood-alcohol level at 0.16 percent, or twice the legal limit of 0.08.
State police said Daniel Sanchez died instantly. Megan, a passenger on her father’s motorcycle, has undergone at least two surgeries for injuries to her leg, a family member told the Albuquerque Journal.
Sanchez’s brother, state District Court Judge William Sanchez, of Los Lunas, presided over the 2008 case in which Williams pleaded guilty to felony charges of vehicular homicide, great bodily harm by vehicle and aggravated driving while intoxicated.
William Sanchez sentenced Williams to the maximum six years in prison allowed under the plea agreement.
In that case, authorities said Williams, then 21, failed to stop at an in August 2006 intersection in the town of Rio Communities and struck a motorcycle. That crash killed the motorcycle driver, Quin Sanchez, 42, of Belen, who was no relation to Daniel and William Sanchez.
Tragedy compounded by coincidence. By all accounts Daniel Sanchez was a hard-working dude, an electrician at the University of New Mexico. He’d stay after work a couple times a week to play basketball with other university employees. They played a memorial game, today, one player short. Reminiscing about just another good guy they worked and played with, how much he talked about his wife and kids.
Williams got a 6-year sentence the first time he killed someone, drunk and driving. With good behavior, he was out and on the streets, again after 3 years. He was returned to the slammer for parole violation after a few months and served the rest of his term. Every couple of years we get a case like this. A drunk killing innocents, outrage and a public call for severe penalties, laws that will keep killers off NM roads. Little or nothing happens.
Being drunk and dangerous is culturally acceptable. Booze distributors are powerful enough here that folks don’t even try to get a bill passed requiring a deposit on beer bottles, anymore. And New Mexico politicians are not among the most diligent of hacks – to begin with.
Williams pleaded Not Guilty – this time – today.