A man who received 20 years in prison this week for a 2017 hit-and-run that left a woman dead issued a statement, calling the woman he fatally struck “careless.”
John Adrian Esparza, 31, pleaded guilty to felony charges of failure to stop and render aid along with manslaughter, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Esparza, who had been drinking earlier, said he wasn’t fully to blame in the death of Rachel Lynn Spelman because she wasn’t careful.
“I’m sorry she had to be so careless,” he said, according to the Morning News reported. However, Esparza apologized to Spelman’s family.
But, he insisted that “we are both at fault.”
Police said he was going 53 mph in a 30 mph zone on March 18, 2017, when he struck Spelman. Officials said they believe his car was going at a speed that made it hard for the victim to see the black vehicle before the crash, Fox News reported.
At the time, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Esparza allegedly stopped and exited his car before looking at Spelman. Then, he got into his vehicle and drove away. The paper reported that Esparza insisted that he wasn’t drunk.
Esparza attempted to explain that he “didn’t even clean up the glass in the car” and wasn’t trying to hid the hit-and-run. “The blood was still on it,” he said.
Police said he fled to Oklahoma after the incident and replaced his windshield, the Dallas News reported.
Spelman’s mother, Cheryl, read an impact statement in court that her daughter had written as a teenager about her older self.
— Lynnanne Nguyen (@LynnanneFOX4) March 19, 2017
“Well, I hope all your dreams came true,” Spelman said, reading the letter. “I hope everything is going good and nothing too horrible is going on or has happened.”
In 2017, Tom Spelman, the woman’s father, said she “was a friend to everyone,” CBS DFW reported. “She was such a good person,” he added.
“She did everything right her whole life,” he also said, according to the Dallas News. “You let your daughter go. You release her to the world,” he added. “And then you get the call.”
Kyle Steele, Esparza’s lawyer, the court that Spelman was intoxicated and crossed a dimly lit street at the time of the crash, Fox reported. He sought probation for his client.
The prosecutor wanted the maximum sentence, citing Esparza’s driving history. He was arrested for drunk driving, but the prosecutor wanted the prison term due to “his attitude.”
“He had just gotten his license reinstated when he went out and killed Rachel Spelman,” the prosecutor, Sherre Thomas, said. Thomas stated that anything less than prison time shows that “all you have to do if you’re in an accident and you’ve been drinking is you just leave the scene.”
US Traffic Deaths Down Overall in 2018
U.S. traffic deaths fell 3.1 percent in the first six months of 2018, according to preliminary figures released in October, Reuters reported. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that in 2017, traffic deaths fell by 1.8 percent to 37,133 after traffic deaths rose sharply in the previous two years, according to final figures.
The U.S. traffic fatality rate fell to 1.08 deaths per 100 million miles traveled for the first half of 2018. The fatality rate in 2017 was 1.16 million deaths per 100 million miles traveled—the second highest rate since 2008.