Man convicted of manslaughter sentenced to 6 months in prison
POSTED: Friday, August 30, 2013 - 8:05pm
UPDATED: Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 1:29pm
Alejandro Fierro eligible to be released on bond while attorneys appeal sentence
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — The man convicted of driving drunk and killing an El Paso Police Officer, and injuring another 3 years ago, was sentenced today by a jury.
In October 2010, a then 19 year-old Alejandro Fierro was driving drunk when he hit and killed Officer Karl McDonough, and injured Officer Ricardo Lopez.
A jury convicted Fierro of manslaughter, aggravated assault, and DWI, after almost 4 hours of deliberations on Thursday afternoon.
He was not convicted of intoxication manslaughter - a charge that could have put Fierro in prison between 5 to 99 years.
During the trial, an expert in traffic investigations testified that the two police officers were speeding and ran a red light that night, which the expert argued greatly contributed to the crash - Fierro's attorneys said that testimony was key to the jury's decision not to convict their client of intoxication manslaughter.
During the punishment phase on Friday evening, the jury suspended a 7 year sentence for Fierro on the manslaughter charge, but ordered him to pay a $10,000 fine for that charge.
For the aggravated assault charge, the jury suspended a 3 year sentence for Fierro, but ordered him to pay a $10,000 fine.
The jury sentenced Fierro to 180 days in prison and ordered him to pay a $2,000 fine for the DWI charge, a misdemeanor.
He was taken into custody after the sentence was handed down.
Defense Attorney Josh Herrera called the decision "bittersweet."
According to Defense Attorney Quijano, Fierro intends on appealing the 180 day sentence, and until then, Alejandro is eligible to be released on a $5000 "appeal bond."
In total, he owes $22,000 in fines and must also complete 800 hours of community service.
If he violates any of the terms of his probation, he could be ordered to serve more time in prison.
It was a full morning of heart-wrenching testimony on Friday from witnesses on both sides.
The prosecution called Nancy and Paul McDonough, parents of Officer Karl McDonough, to the stand first.
They cried as they described the night officers came to their house with the news that their son had died in an accident
Paul told jurors he often dreamt about that happening, and had shared the story with his son Karl about a year ago.
The McDonoughs, a tight-knit military family, who lost their younger son before Karl's accident, described Karl as "very bubbly, always happy, and wanted to make everybody happy."
"We were as close as we were when I carried him for 9 months," said Nancy, "He was a part of me."
Officer McDonough served in the food services sector of the US Army, prior to becoming a police officer, but returned home from a deployment in Germany to take care of his aging parents.
His parents told jurors law enforcement was his passion.
"I've been watching my wife die, little by little. I have to suppress my own feelings in order to stand beside her to try and help her through this," said Paul.
The McDonoughs said their son would visit them each night before his shift at work, and then call them again in the morning to tell them he "made it."
The state then called Officer Ricardo Lopez to testify, who was injured in the accident, and his wife, Rosa Mireya.
Mireya told jurors her husband's injuries deeply affected him physically and emotionally, saying, "He lays in a fetal position and says 'Kill me. Kill me, I can't stand this anymore."
The Lopez family said Ricardo has seen some 29 doctors so far, and they've told him his "suffering will be for life" and has "cut his life short."
During testimony, loved ones on both sides, jurors, audience members, and reporters were crying.
But the tears in court didn't end there.
Testimony from defense witnesses painted a warmer picture of Alejandro Fierro.
A former Montwood High School teacher, and a former employer of Fierro's, told jurors Fierro was a "top student," "a go-getter," "career-driven,"and most of all, "respectful and polite."
Both insisted Fierro had become a "completely different person" after the accident, and was remorseful.
Fierro's former employer told the court that if granted probation, he would employ Fierro again "in a heart beat."
Fierro's father, Justo Alejandro Fierro also testified.
He told jurors that Alejandro "thinks of throwing himself off a bridge to take away the pain from all those families he has harmed."
During his father's testimony, Alejandro broke down, sobbing uncontrollably.
Assistant District Attorney Ray Duke urged jurors to sentence Fierro to the maximum of 20 years in prison, saying "drinking and driving is a selfish act... His (Alejandro) selfishness destroyed all these lives."
Fierro's defense pleaded with jurors to give him probation and a second chance at life. The attorneys insisted this tragic accident was "the perfect storm."
Defense Attorney Dolph Quijano told jurors, "In prison, they will take away your humanity, and when you get out, you'll be worse than what you'd ever be."
After sentencing, Nancy McDonough delivered a tearful victim impact statement, telling Fierro "You walk free and my son's body is in a casket."
Attorneys on both sides of the case admitted it was the most tragic story they'd ever seen.