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January 25, 2012

In Florida state court, epileptic gets nine years in prison for driving car

Though the title of this blog post is meant to be (unduly) sensational, this local article provides, as the late Paul Harvey might say, the rest of the sentencing story (which remains quite interesting, but is not quite as extreme as the post headline might suggest):

A Hillsborough county judge sentenced Emilio Santacruz to nine years in prison today for violating the terms of his probation and driving a vehicle.

Convicted of vehicular homicide, Santacruz received no jail time at his initial sentencing in 2004. Instead, he agreed to forgo driving for 15 years. Family members of victim Angie Talty, 79, were upset at the time. It was too light of a sentence, they thought, especially since Santacruz knew he wasn't supposed to be driving. He has epilepsy, and a doctor had told him not to drive.

Then, in late 2011, authorities arrested Santacruz after a Times report uncovered driving citations that showed he had been driving Miami-Dade County. Santacruz, authorities said, had obtained a license in 2008 using a different last name.

Wednesday afternoon, he entered a guilty plea on the probation violation in Hillsborough County court. Tears streaming, he said he couldn't ask for forgiveness. He called his application for a license a "mistake." But he said he did it for his family, to get a job and support his young daughter, Emily.

He said he'd do whatever the Circuit Judge Daniel Perry ordered, but begged the judge to let him go home. "Please, I'm asking you to trust in me for the last time," he said in Spanish, through a translator.

Perry said he faced a difficult decision. He could sentence Santacruz to up to 15 years in prison. The defense asked for a probation modification. Perry settled on nine years, the least under sentencing guidelines.

January 25, 2012 at 05:31 PM | Permalink


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"nine years, the least under sentencing guidelines."

Generous, and arguably long in the coming. No incarceration for
vehicular homicide? An epileptic with no promise of adequate
muscle control should an episode hit?

"obtained a license in 2008 using a different last name"--come on FL DMV, you jokers sucked eggs when I lived there, giving out 3 or more DLICs to the same perp.

You get a ride to work such as public transport, Sanchez. Now is
the time a estudiar ingles.

Just like so, so many of the Parole Violators at my joint: they take Parole as a release,
not as a conditional & merciful gift, feeling robbed when they violate and face the remainder of the
actual sentence.

Posted by: Adamakis | Jan 25, 2012 9:43:12 PM

yep and just think florida went to the 85% feature decades ago. so he will sever 85% of that before he can be released.

Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 25, 2012 9:57:16 PM

Prison for parole violation that caused no harm, only benefit to family and society.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 26, 2012 8:27:06 AM

Caused no harm? I'm not following. He killed someone through vehicular homicide. How is that causing no harm? And how does that benefit the victim's family and society?

Posted by: Bill B. | Jan 26, 2012 5:44:59 PM

Bill:I think what Supremacy Claus meant was that the parole violaton caused no harm -- his driving, not the vehicular homicide.

On a related note, I am curious what was the cause of the original vehicular homicide? Was it that he seized at the wheel? What was his culpability? What was the 79 year old victims culpability.

In my experience, many 79 year old drivers are quite dangerous, and if it wasn't for certain lobbying, good public policy would require that they get re-examined before continuing their licensing into old age. On that note, how do we know that she was not the cause of her own homicide? If Sanchez indeed had a seizure, perhaps it wasthe result of the accident, not the cause of the accident.

But I digress

Posted by: Alex | Jan 26, 2012 8:36:55 PM

Alex: You are on to something important. The defense should have pointed out the following.

1) Crashes take place when multiple factors converge in the same place and time. The average number is likely to be a dozen. Subtract one of them, however, weak, and there is no crash. This analysis brought aircraft crashes to nearly zero. Auto crashes will continue until this modern investigation is applied. The lawyer still holds the view of 1275 AD, that is a chain of causation. This is a superstition still prevalent in the courts, which violates defendant procedural due process rights. One would have to throw in car technology and road design into the analysis. When belted, with modern safety features, the driver should survive a crash at full speed today. It is not the fault of the defendant if the victim did not put on her seat belt or drove a 20 year old car devoid of safety technology. One needs more facts.

2) Two biases operate, the outcome bias and the hindsight bias. In outcome bias, one must find a scapegoat for a bad outcome. In the second, knowledge of the result makes it more predictable retrospectively. Again, these are unfair.

3) Epilepsy is a protected status under the revised ADAAA. One may not make decision about a person based on their status. The mention of epilepsy should have been answered by a demand for a mistrial by the defense lawyer. It is not like mentioning skin color.

I know of no case in which the defense made these arguments. This comment is a gift to he defense bar from the Ambassador from Earth to the Lawyer Profession.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 27, 2012 1:43:02 AM

He violated the probation; he knew what was going to happen if he got caught. He didn't violate his probation by accident; he made a conscious and deliberate action knowing the consequences. Not being able to drive for years is tough but it's not worth going to jail for.

Posted by: Car Dealers St Louis | Feb 27, 2012 5:58:35 PM

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