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Marcos Ramos Medina. Courtesy Yakima Herald Republic
A twice-deported illegal alien with a long record of drug arrests is facing up to five years in prison after a second trial for killing a Washington State community college president while driving under the influence of methamphetamines.
Marcos Ramos Medina, 35, who was found to have at least eight aliases and falsely identified himself at his first court appearance, escaped serious injury on Aug. 4, 2005, when his 1997 Chevrolet Lumina – driven erratically according to witnesses – swerved several times across the center line, causing a tractor-trailer rig to jackknife in Yakima, Wash. His car then plowed head-on into the 2000 Lexus driven by Peggy Keller, 53, dean of distance education at Yakima Valley Community College, killing her at the scene.
Keller, a radiology expert, was on her way to an education conference when she was killed.
As WND reported, Medina’s first trial came to an abrupt end in August 2006 when Russell T. “Todd” Sharpe, a six-year Washington State Patrol officer, testified that the suspect fought against his restraints while being taken to the hospital for a blood alcohol test and refused to answer questions. The case against the Mexican national with a criminal record who had twice been deported was declared a mistrial because his constitutional right to remain silent had been violated.
“It pains me greatly, but in this case I must exercise an abundance of caution,” explained Judge James P. Hutton at the time.
This week a jury took only 30 minutes to find Medina guilty.
That Medina caused the crash was never in question – only his level of guilt. His attorney questioned prosecutors’ claims that drug use was to blame.
According to Washington State Toxicologist Barry Logan, a blood test taken immediately after the accident showed a high concentration of methamphetamine in Medina’s system. He testified that the reported erratic driving and his mood swings after he was taken into custody indicated Medina had been driving with drug-induced exhaustion.
Medina, on the stand, testified that he had been exhausted because of a lack of sleep due to a trip he made to Portland, Ore., to sell a pickup truck, the Yakima Herald Republic reported. He blamed an emergency spare tire for causing the car to swerve to one side and pills given him by a friend because of illness the night before the crash. According to his attorney’s closing argument, Medina did not know what the pills were.
The jury was unconvinced.
Afterward, Keller’s husband, Gordon Keller, told the Herald Republic he was pleased with the verdict but would not comment until Medina’s sentencing on Nov. 16.
Peggy Keller’s death at the hands of an intoxicated illegal-alien driver is becoming an all-too-common occurence on U.S. highways.
In 2005, WND reported, Scott Gardner of Mount Holly, N.C., was on vacation and heading to the coast with his family when his station wagon was struck by a truck driven by Ramiro Gallegos, an illegal alien charged three times previously with drunk driving.
Gardner, the father of two young children, was killed. Gallegos of Mexico was charged with second-degree murder and driving while impaired.
But driving under the influence may be only the tip of the problem of illegal aliens on U.S. highways.
While no one – in or out of government – tracks traffic accidents caused by illegal aliens, the statistical and anecdotal evidence suggests many of last year’s 42,636 road deaths involved illegal aliens.
A report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Study found 20 percent of fatal accidents involve at least one driver who lacks a valid license. In California, another study showed that those who have never held a valid license are about five times more likely to be involved in a fatal road accident than licensed drivers.
Statistically, that makes them an even greater danger on the road than drivers whose licenses have been suspended or revoked – and nearly as dangerous as drunk drivers.
While police do not routinely ask drivers about their immigration status, New York’s Rockland County District Attorney Michael Bongiorno – who has prosecuted more than 20 felony cases this year involving people accused of both unlicensed driving and drunken driving – estimated that two-thirds of about 70 drivers charged in Spring Valley with misdemeanor counts of driving while intoxicated and unlicensed driving were illegal immigrants.
“Unfortunately, the undocumented drivers here do that (drive unlicensed) more than the natives,” said California Highway Patrol Officer Wendy Hahn. “If they’ve been involved in an incident, they flee because they don’t want to deal with immigration.”