A Coral Gables man who worked as a physical therapy assistant was sentenced to twenty years in prison after a week-long trial when a jury found him guilty of all three charges against him. His blood alcohol level was more than triple the legal limit when his car crashed into a 2002 Chrysler Town and Country minivan killing a thirteen year old girl as well as injuring her father and sister.
According to police, Kaely Camacho, 13, was killed when Sandor Guillen’s 2010 Range Rover slammed into the minivan she occupied while he was speeding southbound at more than 80 miles per hour near the intersection of SW 184 St. and South Dixie Highway. His car was tearing down the bus lane (Busway), where the posted speed limit is 40 mph and is not open to typical vehicular traffic. The impact virtually carved the minivan in half. Kaely’s father: Kirk, 47, who was driving the minivan and sister: Bree Ann, 16, were also injured which non-life threatening injuries in the crash which occurred on April 13th, 2012. All family members were taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital where Kaely was pronounced dead at the Ryder Trauma Center a short after arrival.
A spokesperson for the Miami-Dade Police said “You can see from the damage of the actual mini-van, it’s missing the second half; the impact was very severe,” and went on to observe that in his opinion, the tragedy was unquestionably Guillen’s fault.
According to witnesses, upon impact, Guillen’s SUV ran into a tree, gyrated five times and finally came to a stop almost fifty yards away from the van. He made no attempt to alert 911 and then staggered away from the scene, discarding his identification in a thicket of underbrush. He was spotted by a Miami-Dade Police Officer that was informed to the accident in an adjacent area, apparently listening to music from his cellphone.
When questioned, his actions and responses seemed guarded according to the officer and told the investigator that he had been at a get-together with some friends where he had a few drinks just before getting into the wreck.
He was arrested shortly after being questioned by police and taken to a hospital to have his own injuries addressed. He was then booked and held pending trial after a judge set his bond at one million dollars. The arrest report specified that he reeked powerfully of alcohol and was acting intoxicated when the arrest took place. The charges against him were DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide in addition to leaving the scene of an accident.
The ensuing investigation showed that Guillen’s DNA was a perfect match to the blood found on the airbag of the Range Rover that collided with the Camacho family’s vehicle leaving minimal doubt that he was the driver according to forensic experts.
He remained locked up until the amount of his bond was lowered to just over $200,000 which is still substantially higher than the $45,000 which is the norm for the type of charges Guillen would face.
At trial, Guillen asserted that he’d been “jumped” by nameless attackers as reason for him being covered with blood. But the prosecutor explained to the jury that the DNA evidence found on his vehicle’s airbag isolated Guillen as the only possible driver of the SUV; shooting down that claim.
After acknowledging that his client was in fact the driver his defense attorney claimed that Mr. Camacho was at fault because it was he who went through the red light at the intersection and asserted that the chief detective destroyed vital evidence in the course of his investigation. But both of those claims were dispelled by witnesses including the leading detective when called by the prosecution.
First, Hiram Hernandez, a traffic engineer for Miami-Dade testified that the sensors located on the Busway will not offer a bus or any other vehicle traveling on it a green light if it’s moving at a speed of more than fifteen miles per hour. He continued by saying that doing so would cause a fifty five-second delay before the light will turn green. “The reason was to force the bus drivers down before they get the green,” he said. He went on to say that the once collision-plagued Busway system was redesigned to diminish the incidence of accidents. Additionally, when the prosecutor asked him “are civilian vehicles allowed to use the Busway?” Hernandez replied “No they are not.”
When Detective Oscar Perez was put on the stand and responded to the defense attorney’s claim of him destroying important evidence at the scene of the accident he argued the allegation, admonishing the accusation by explaining that he merely transformed his original notes to that of a diagram format which was drawn to scale, to demonstrate a much more precise appearance than the rough sketches that were written by hand at the scene of the crash.
The detective’s believability appeared to be taken at its word by the jurors and the challenge to his testimony by the defense attorney only seemed to visibly annoy the assemblage.
But most importantly, Dr. Lisa Reidy, an expert in the field of Toxicologist affirmed that the defendant’s blood alcohol level was in excess of three times the legal limit at a staggering 0.26. The legal limit in most states including Florida is 0.08.
In early March of this year, after a scant three hours of deliberations, the jury found him guilty of all charges alleged. In early June he was sentenced to twenty years behind bars.
Upon delivering the sentence, Miami-Dade County Judge Ellen Sue Venzer admonished Guillen by declaring that “The fact is, Mr. Guillen, when you chose to get drunk that night and get behind the wheel of that car, you set off a chain of events that led us all here today.”
As explained in the above article, a conviction for DUI Manslaughter can result in a punitive sentence if a guilty verdict is decided by a jury of your peers. If you find yourself facing charges such as these or if a friend or family member is charged for any of these offenses it is crucial that a well-practiced criminal defense attorney is retained at the earliest possible juncture of the case.
Mr. Cohen has tried numerous cases of these types with positive results and is considered an expert by Martindale-Hubbell® a rating agency that is trusted in the legal field, recognizing lawyers that are in the top percentage of their chosen field of law. Mr. Cohen maintains an AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review RatingSM by Martindale-Hubbell® by the rating agency. His qualifications are unparalleled in the area of his specified field of criminal trial law among criminal lawyers whose practice is based in the State of Florida.
To read about Mr. Cohen’s qualifications and what you should do if you are arrested and charged with this crime, click here.
To find out more about this topic and the legal ramifications and penalties of a DUI Manslaughter charge or any other charges regarding Driving under the Influence of Alcohol, click here.