Deadly DUI Crash Sentencing

May 20, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A judge sentenced 35-year-old Raul Ruelas to more than 11 years in prison for driving drunk and killing 14-year-old Anita Cuadros. The crash happened December 2007 when she and her mother were driving outside of Reedley.

Tom Cuadros wanted to send a message to Ruelas, the drunk driver who cut short his teenage daughter's life. Cuadros became emotional in court during Ruelas' sentencing when Cuadros said, "Anita was a precious gift from god who made us laugh, smile and brought joy into our life."

Family and friends wore pink shirts and buttons with pictures of the 14-year-old girl. They packed the court room as the judge sentenced the defendant to more than eleven years in prison for driving drunk and killing Anita.

The girl's mother Yolanda was also in the vehicle when the crash happened. In a painful twist of fate, Yolanda and the defendant were treated at the same hospital just feet apart from each other.

In court Yolanda Cuadros said, "Nurses were asking him questions. He spoke and he laughed. My first thought was he has a voice. Anita's heart is going to stop, and he has a voice. This made me sick."

The defendant is accused of running a stop sign at an intersection outside of Reedley. The prosecutor said he T-boned the family's car, crushing Anita. She died 24 hours later at the hospital.

The defendant's attorney Stephen Quade told everyone in court, Ruelas is sorry for causing a deadly crash, "A number of occasions when I met him at the jail, he actually broke down crying when we discussed the case. I mean, he maybe didn't really show it completely today but I know he truly feels bad about what happened."

An expression of sorrow that still doesn't alleviate a family's pain. Yolanda Cuadros told the defendant, "As Anita's mom, I need to let you know you've been forgiven for this violent crime." But Anita's family won't ever forget a young girl who was called an angel.


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