In a tragic scene that seems pulled from a bad Lifetime movie, a young illegal immigrant has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after committing a felony DUI that led to the death of a Catholic nun and severely injured two others.
Late last week, 24-year-old Carlos A. Martinelly-Montano was sentenced to 20 years in prison for a drunk driving accident that occurred in August 2010, according to the Washington Post. The sentencing took place at the Prince William County Courthouse in Mannassas, Virginia.
Sources indicate that Martinelly-Montano had already been convicted of felony murder charges during a trial in October, and had been awaiting news of his sentence for several months.
According to the police report, Martinelly-Montano was driving drunk when he steered his Subaru into a guardrail and then swerved into the opposite lane on a narrow, two-lane stretch of road in Bristow, Virginia.
When he veered into the wrong lane, he struck a blue Toyota Corolla that belonged to three nuns who were members of the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia. The nuns were traveling from Richmond to Bristow for an annual retreat.
The tragic accident led to the death of Sister Denise Mosier. In addition, Sisters Charlotte Lange and Connie Ruth Lipton, both of whom are in their 70s, were badly injured in the wreck.
The high-profile case drew attention not only for the tragic identity of its victims, but also the legal history of the perpetrator.
According to sources, Martinelly-Montano, who was originally from Bolivia, had previously been arrested twice for other drunk driving charges. In addition, before the fatal accident, federal authorities had scheduled a deportation hearing with Martinelly-Montano.
Alas, Martinelly-Montano was not deported, although he claims that his time in jail and the death he caused have led him to “dedicate himself to God.” This journey towards a new faith may have been aided by the injured nuns, who apparently have shown him forgiveness.
Despite this forgiveness, though, Martinelly-Montano must deal with the legal consequences of his actions. At trial, he pled guilty to five different charges, including involuntary manslaughter, driving on a revoked license, getting a third DUI offense in five years, and two counts of maiming while driving under the influence.
All told, the charges carry a maximum sentence of 70 years in prison, which has led some critics to suggest that the judge’s sentence of 20 years was too lenient for Martinally-Montano.