Is 12 Years in Prison Justice for Fresno Family Whose Dad Was Killed by Drunk Driver?
Daniel Barrera of Fresno got up early on a February morning in 2021 to take his 8-year-old son on a hike.
Before they could reach their destination, Barrera, 34, was killed and his son was injured by a drunk driver who sped through a stop sign in a BMW at Sunnyside and Church avenues.
Barrera left behind his fiancée, their two children, and a baby on the way.
On Friday, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kimberly A. Gaab sentenced the drunk driver, Miguel Angel Escamilla, 26, of Fresno, to 12 years in prison.
Some might call that closure. Others might call it justice. The reality is that Barrera’s life was ended by a man who, when he exits prison, will taste freedom again.
“I am very, very sorry for your loss,” Gaab said to the Barrera family, The Fresno Bee reported. “This was a horrendous case, there are just no other words for it. The defendant will have to live with what he did and he will have a lot of time in prison thinking about that.”
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Flees the Scene
Let the record show that after leaving a party at 6 a.m., Escamilla ran a stop sign at 74 mph, crashed into the Barrera’s vehicle, and fled — instead of rendering aid and calling 9-1-1.
Then he tried to hide in a residence, but people there called the police, and responding officers arrested him.
Four hours after the wreck, Escamilla’a blood alcohol count was more than 1.5 times the legal limit and his blood tested positive for marijuana.
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After first entering a not-guilty plea to a host of charges in 2021, Escamilla agreed to a plea deal in January 2023. He pleaded no contest to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI causing injury under the combined influence of drugs and alcohol, and hit and run resulting in permanent injury or death.
At the time of the fatal crash, he didn’t have a valid driver’s license.
Deputy district attorney Steven Ueltzen prosecuted the case.
“(Escamilla) acted without any regard for the lives of other people,” Ueltzen said. “And he showed no remorse up to and including his conduct in the hospital. He was laughing at the delay in the blood test, saying that by the time they got the results he would be sober.”