Driver in deadly Thanksgiving hit-and-run pleads guilty

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The driver in a deadly Thanksgiving hit-and-run entered a plea deal on Thursday.

Joel Velazquez, 24, pleaded guilty to accident involving death, manslaughter and tampering with evidence. He was sentenced to 10 years each for the three charges, for which he will serve concurrently. His time served will count toward his sentence.

When the judge declared the verdict to Velazquez, the victim’s family, who carried yellow flowers with them, broke into tears.

The victim’s family said they were looking for closure.

“Last time I saw my daughter was five hours ago a year ago, and I told her I loved her, she told me she loved me and she told her mother she loved her,” Danny Ferguson, Amanda’s father said.

Ferguson added no amount of time served will bring complete closure.

“It’s a mixed emotion you know nobody wants to lose their daughter, I don’t think 10 years is enough from my heart but once again it is not going to bring my daughter back,” Ferguson said.

“I know that my actions were wrong, but I was scared, it was an accident and it was never intended for this to happen, I am very sorry for the pain that I caused them and the irreparable damage,” Velazquez said.

Velazquez sped through a red light while driving drunk and hit Amanda Weyant Ferguson, a 28-year-old schoolteacher.

It happened in the early hours of Thanksgiving 2018 in the Cincinnati Entertainment District.

Velazquez allegedly admitted to officers that he had five or six beers that night. He allegedly abandoned the car with a smashed-in window in a nearby neighborhood and told his father the car had been stolen.

In 2017, Velazquez was arrested and charged with assault, court records show.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed that Velazquez is from Juarez, Mexico, and was in the U.S. illegally. He had been placed under an immigration detainer.

The judge stated that Velazquez could be deported because he is not a citizen of the United States.

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