A somber story from Massachusetts is close to being resolved as an illegal immigrant submits his appeal after being convicted of murdering a man while drunk driving.
According to The Telegram, the Massachusetts Appeals Court heard arguments from Nicolas Guaman’s lawyer on Monday, who is hoping to reduce his client’s sentence. Guaman, an Ecuadorian immigrant, was convicted of killing Milford resident Matthew Denice in 2011 after a fatal DWI accident.
Guaman, who was illegally living in the U.S. at the time of the incident, went through a stop sign while drunk driving in Aug. 2011, crashing into 23-year-old Denice. Denice, who was on a motorcycle, was then dragged for nearly a quarter of a mile while onlookers screamed and banged on Guaman’s car, begging him to stop.
As it currently stands, Guaman faces 12 to 14 years in prison for manslaughter and vehicular homicide. However, his attorney argues that these charges are redundant, and he has asked the Appeals Court to drop one of them to reduce his client’s sentence.
“The two charges are essentially, we argue, the same,” said Ethan Stiles, Guaman’s attorney.
Stiles added that recklessness must be proven to constitute a manslaughter charge. He believes that his client was negligent, but not reckless, which would result in the manslaughter charge being dropped.
While Stiles has also argued that Guaman did not understand why people were banging on his car, Appellate Judge Gregory Massing did not agree.
“Isn’t ‘stop’ and banging on the car a universal language?” Massing asked.
“He is, essentially, a stranger in what would become a very strange land,” Stiles replied. “The government had to prove the defendant’s awareness that the victim was actually being dragged.”
Almost 300,000 people in the U.S. drive drunk every single day, and bad decisions like the one made by Guaman are not uncommon. His niece actually called 911 on that day to report his drunk driving, which was eventually used as evidence against her uncle during his conviction.
As the Boston Herald reported, Guaman admitted to drinking six beers before the accident. In addition to worrying his niece, he also drove with a 6-year-old inside of his pickup truck on the day of the crash.
The victim’s mother, Maureen Maloney, has become an advocate for immigration reform following the death of her son. While Guaman did express regret at his appeal hearing, Maloney claims that “the only thing he is remorseful for is that he’s in prison.”