Street racer who hit, killed 11-year-old Mikey Espinoza sentenced to 6 years in prison

Defense claims Oswaldo Lopez left scene to hug mom

DENVER - A 21-year-old Aurora man, who was street racing on Federal Boulevard when he struck and killed an 11-year-old boy last February, will spend six years behind bars.

Prosecutors say Oswaldo Lopez was driving north on Federal near Colfax, racing against a motorcyclist when he hit Mikey Espinoza on Feb. 16.  Espinoza and his cousin, Joseph Talamantes, 14, were crossing Federal on foot when the racer came up the street in his Dodge Charger.

"He's slowing down to 60 miles an hour when he hit the child," the prosecutor said.

The impact knocked the license plate and part of the front bumper off the Charger.

During the sentencing hearing Thursday, prosecutors told the judge that Lopez stopped briefly after the impact to check his car, then got back inside, dropped a friend off, filled his car up with gas and drove home.

The defense attorney told the court that Lopez was so distraught about the accident, that instead of stopping to render aid, he drove home to hug his mom.

"It would seem to me that the last thing you would think about is hugging your mom," said Denver District Judge Martin Egelhoff.

Family members describe Lopez as the rock of the family.

"He's a good son, brother and co-worker," said a tearful Maria Garcia, the racer's mom. "He's the one who pays the bills."

The victim's family was also in tears.

Espinoza's grandmother, Mary Walker, told the court that Mikey had a heart of gold. 

"If anyone had a need, Mikey was the first person to come to their aid," she said. "He wanted to become a football player or a boxer, so he could make a lot of money and buy his mom a house and his sister a car."

Walker said her family has been devastated by the tragedy.

She said a young family member asked if "we can get a balloon so we can tie it on Mikey's bike and send it to heaven."

Walker told the court that Lopez took an accident and turned it into a crime.

"It was so very cold," she said, "and he chose to leave our boy lying in the street. It is unforgivable and he should be held accountable."

The defendant spoke briefly during his sentencing hearing.  He told the Espinoza family that he was sorry.

The judge noted that Lopez was driving very fast, racing someone he didn't know.

"You left and you didn't stop,"  Egelhoff said.

He then sentenced Lopez to six years in prison and three years of mandatory parole.

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