Read jailhouse letter written for vehicular homicide sentencing

Posted: October 21, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

T-shirts of Peshlakai sisters worn by the several dozen supporters at an Oct. 20 vehicular homicide sentencing for James Ruiz. (Geoff Grammer/The New Mexican)

James Ruiz said he was sorry. He cried. He owned up to being behind the wheel, drunk, the night he drove a friend’s pickup into a car on Cerrillos Road, killing two teenage sisters and a family dog.

But he wasn’t done there.

First, here is a LINK to an article about Thursday’s sentencing hearing in which Ruiz got 40 years in prison for the vehicular homicide of Del Lynn (17) and DeShauna (19) Peshlakai.

Included in Ruiz’s talk to the court, he said there is some blame to be shared for the girl’s deaths with the district attorney’s office for, essentially, not punishing him more for past DWI cases.

Here is a .pdf version of the six-page letter Ruiz wrote that his attorney, Ray Twohig, gave to media after the hearing.

As remorseful and ready to accept responsibility as Ruiz told the grieving family he was, as well as state District Judge Michael Vigil, this letter and what he said in court took many by surprise, including several members of the Peshlakai family I spoke with after the hearing.

Here are some excerpts from Ruiz’s letter:

“Today the Santa Fe District Attorneys Office successfully managed to give me more time in prison for an accident than someone that commits an intentional act of violence.”

• • • • •

“My 3 prior DWI convictions (not 5 as reported numerous times) never resulted in injuries to anyone and are considered misdemeanor crimes. Because of these prior convictions, the DA’s office was able to enhance my potential sentence by 48 years! Someone convicted of 1st degree murder doesn’t get 48 years.”

• • • • •

“Alcoholism is recognized as a disease ad like all diseases requires treatment in order to beat it. Court systems should recognize this before (like in my case) others can be harmed.”

• • • • •

“It is true. I was out on bond facing a fourth DWI at the time this accident occurred. Had the S.F. DA’s office prosecuted that case 1 out of the 5 or 6 times I reported to court, or in the 2 years it took them to locate their file, it’s likely I would have been serving a lengthy jail sentence or at the very least under some sort of strict court supervision at the time this accident occurred. Accident — “absent of positive plan or intent.” (defined by the Merriam-Webster Thesaurus).”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The 2008 ending DWI case started before DA Spence Pacheco took office (Jan. 1, 2009) and court records reflect delays in the case were, at least initially, because Ruiz requested and was granted an opportunity to attend a treatment facility in California. He did not complete that treatment program.

• • • • •

“I wish I could ask the people of N.M. if they consider a DWI offense to be more serious than 2nd degree murder

• • • • •

“To say the media has been negligent in it’s reporting this case is an understatement. There are several inaccuracies reported. Some things only partially true or altogether untrue. … The night of the accident, I was driving a friends truck who willingly gave me his keys. This friend was completely aware I had been drinking (we all were). He was aware of my struggles with alcoholism and was aware of all my previous DWI convictions as well as the status of my drivers license.”

• • • • •

“There was a bottle of vodka in my backpack on the floor board in the rear seat. Not floating around the cab of the truck like we were passing it around.”

• • • • •

“I am hoping to oneday have everyone’s forgiveness? I certainly never meant to to harm anyone.”

… and again, CLICK HERE TO READ the .pdf version of the letter yourself if interested.


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