In early 2009, Homestead man Gabriel Delrisco made headlines when he was arrested and charged with three counts of DUI manslaughter in the deaths of three children.
Due to the emotionally-charged nature of the case, this alleged incident of lethal drunk driving became high-profile.
Today, however, the Miami Herald reports that Mr. Delrisco has entered an open guilty plea to the Court.
An open plea means that an accused person enters a guilty plea without a plea offer from the State.
Most criminal cases are resolved by way of a negotiated plea between the State and the defense. A good criminal defense attorney should be a shrewd negotiator who is skilled at leveraging the strengths and weaknesses of a case into the best outcome for a client.
However, in some instances, the State may not be willing to offer a plea. In this case, prosecutors were likely pressured by the family of the victims who did not want to see the man accused of killing their children walk away with anything less than the maximum sentence.
Also, if prosecutors have a strong case against an accused person, they are less likely to offer a plea because their chances of success at trial are high.
Mr. Delrisco pled guilty before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rosa Rodriguez without an offer from the State. This means that the sentence is solely in the hands of the judge, who will consider argument from both the State and defense. She will also permit the victims' family to make a victim impact statement. A victim impact statement is permitted by Florida law and it is basically a crime victim's or next of kin's opportunity to be heard before the Court prior to sentencing. Given the sensitive nature of this case and the fact that three children are dead, I expect the judge to give great weight to the wishes of the family.
On the other hand, the defense will present what they believe is mitigating information that the Court should consider prior to sentencing. Mitigating information can include remorse and willingness to get treatment for alcohol abuse.
The specific allegation is that Mr. Delrisco struck into the back of a Ford minivan on Jan. 25, 2009 in South Miami-Dade, killing three children who were passengers in the van.
Mr. Delrisco's case created a public outcry because of his driving record. It is reported that Mr. Delrisco had 29 traffic violations in eight years, including one previous DUI. Delrisco still had a valid license at the time of the fatal accident.
I expect Judge Rodriguez to sentence Mr. Delrisco to less than the maximum of 45, but certainly in excess of the mandatory minimum 4-year prison sentence.
The Law Offices of Eric M. Matheny, P.A. is a criminal defense firm that serves the Miami-Dade and Broward areas. Call today for a free phone consultation.