DENVER (CBS4) – Family and friends of a 21-year-old Denver man who was killed in a hit-and-run in January confronted the driver in court on Monday.
A judge sentenced Norma Vera-Nolasco to the maximum penalty of 12 years in prison on Monday afternoon after a tearful hearing.
Relatives said in the courtroom that Jose Medina was a young man with a bright future. He was engaged to be married and was working as a valet on Lincoln in downtown Denver when he was hit.
Vera-Nolasco, who pleaded guilty to the crime in an earlier hearing, was allegedly drunk when the crash happened and was in the country illegally. She also had a history of hit-and-run incidents.
Vera-Nolasco’s attorney asked the judge for a six to eight year sentence. He explained she has an eigth grade education and is supporting her sick mother. He argued that she was unaware of what had happened that night. The prosecutor countered that Vera-Nolasco did and that’s why she was caught on a plane moments away from fleeing to Mexico.
Linda Limon, Medina’s mother, said she was hoping for a much longer sentence.
“A truck, a gun, a weapon, whatever … it doesn’t matter if you take a life,” she said.
After the sentencing hearing family members with Limon at their center gathered at a makeshift memorial outside the Rockstar Lounge where the crime happened.
“At least I got 12 years,” Limon said. “And it was for Jose.”
Three other people have already pleaded guilty to helping cover up the crime and helping Vera-Nolasco escape.
CBS4 GOOD QUESTION REPORT
CBS4′s Alan Gionet recently set out to seek the answer to the question “Why Do They Run?” in reference to the numerous hit-and-run cases in the Denver area. Watch his complete report below where he explores why the penalties in Colorado aren’t greater for such drivers who cause bodily harm.