A woman who ran over and killed a Denver nightclub valet and then drove off and tried to flee to Mexico was sentenced to the maximum penalty on Monday.
Norma Vera-Nolasco, 32, was driving a truck that struck and killed 21-year-old Jose Medina as he was parking cars outside the Rockstar Lounge on Jan. 22. Prosecutors said Vera-Nolasco was drunk and didn't stop.
Vera-Nolasco pleaded guilty to felony vehicular homicide and faced a maximum of 12 years in prison, which even the prosecutors and the family felt was too little.
"I want peace and justice for my brother," said Phillip Medina, the victim's brother, during the sentencing hearing.
The judge, after hearing testimony from the victim's friends and family, sentenced Vera-Nolasco to the maximum 12 years. Because she is an illegal immigrant, Vera-Nolasco will be deported after she finishes her sentence.
Vera-Nolasco was also the driver responsible for a hit and run in 2009 but that was pleaded down.
Medina's family held a vigil outside the Rockstar Lounge shortly after the sentencing, placing flowers on the spot where he died.
"They took my son. I will never see him again and they have a life to live," said Medina's mother, Linda Limon.
The family says 12 years is not long enough, but that is the maximum sentence for vehicular homicide.
"The laws need to change for any kind. A truck, a gun, a weapon, if doesn't matter. If you take a life, they need to change to a life sentence," Limon said.
Prosecutors are urging victims everywhere to press their lawmakers for change.
"They are the people the legislature will listen to more than me," said prosecutor Rebekah Melnick.
Vera-Nolasco was arrested days after the hit-and-run after police pulled her off a Mexico-bound jetliner at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The plane had been taxiing for takeoff.
She addressed the court on Monday, asking for forgiveness.
Vera-Nolasco had three people who helped her escape, police said.
Her sister, Yolanda Bastida-Nolasco, 44, and her brother-in-law, Guadalupe Bastida, 48, have both pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor aiding escape. Eliu Montes-Garcia, 18, pleaded guilty to accessory to a crime. All three are also illegal immigrants and face deportation once they are sentenced, according to federal immigration authorities.
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