Friday, December 15, 2017
News Roundup

3DUI manslaughter conviction earns New Port Richey man 15-year sentence

TAMPA — The desperation in their voices was haunting. "He's going to kill somebody," the driver said repeatedly during a 911 call on July 4, 2010.

The unidentified callers followed Albino Martinez, now 35, for seven heart-wrenching minutes as he drunkenly maneuvered his Nissan pickup north on Dale Mabry Highway, swerving in and out of lanes and over medians. And then, after turning west on Van Dyke Road, they watched helplessly as he smashed head on into a minivan and killed 42-year-old Gina Villegas.

Friday morning, Martinez apologized to Villegas' family for the pain and suffering he caused. Her husband and three children, ranging in age from 18 to 23, listened in silence as Martinez maintained his innocence, claiming someone slipped a drug into his drink. His family cried as the New Port Richey man pleaded with the court, telling the judge about his two young children.

"That day, everything finished for me," Martinez said through an interpreter. "I don't know if I deserve to be happy."

Judge William Fuente sentenced Martinez to 15 years in prison. Martinez, who is in the country illegally, will likely be deported after he serves his time.

The defense had asked for a lighter sentence, arguing Martinez was a victim of involuntary intoxication. But Fuente opted for the maximum sentence.

"DUI manslaughters are, without question, one of the most difficult types of cases," Fuente said. "We're dealing with really decent people, for the most part. . . . There is no evil intent or malice on anyone's part."

Still, Fuente said Martinez made the choice to drink and get behind the wheel, turning a car into a weapon. That choice cost the Villegas family a mother, wife and sister.

"The loss to the Villegas family is permanent," Fuente said. "The loss to Mr. Martinez is finite, and will be temporary."

The Villegas family did not speak, instead opting for Becky Gage, a victim's advocate, to read a previously written letter. Gina Villegas' widower, Joffre, stood beside Gage as she shared the family's words.

"Because of this horrible event, we no longer have our mother here on this earth, but we're sure she still watches over us," Gage read. "But Mr. Martinez must live with these actions for the rest of his life."

Comments
Lightning routs Coyotes for sixth straight win

Lightning routs Coyotes for sixth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. — As much as the Lightning has been rolling, it remembered how it lost twice last season to the Coyotes.That included blowing a one-goal third-period lead at home down the stretch, with Tampa Bay missing the playoffs by a point."You l...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Stephan Jiggetts’ 20 points lead USF basketball over Bethune-Cookman

Stephan Jiggetts’ 20 points lead USF basketball over Bethune-Cookman

TAMPA — USF used a 21-3 run midway through the second half en route to an 83-63 win over Bethune-Cookman on Thursday night before an announced 2,091 at the Sun Dome.The victory halted a four-game losing streak for the Bulls (5-6), who scored the last...
Updated: 6 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Dec. 14

Thursday’s scoreboardGirls soccerLargo 4, Boca Ciega 1
Updated: 6 hours ago
House Speaker Paul Ryan says he’s not leaving Congress soon

House Speaker Paul Ryan says he’s not leaving Congress soon

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday he’s not leaving Congress anytime soon, trying to squelch rumors that he will walk away in triumph after the Republicans’ treasured tax bill is approved. Politico and the Huffington Post published re...
Updated: 7 hours ago
No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Here’s the one thing we definitely know:Rays officials headed home from the winter meetings and back across I-4 Thursday without making deals to trade any of their bigger-name, higher-paid players. Not closer Alex Colome, not third...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Tampa police seek ‘person of interest’ in Dec. 3 homicide

Tampa police seek ‘person of interest’ in Dec. 3 homicide

TAMPA — Police are seeking a "person of interest" who they believe has information about a Dec. 3 drive-by shooting that killed a 22-year-old man.Police are searching for Anan Motilal, 25. He stands about 5-foot-10 and weighs 180 pounds. He may have ...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, please go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Thurs., Dec. 14, midday:97 796 8399e_SRit63724Thurs., Dec. 14, evening:37 731 1382e_SRit63276LottoWed., ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Pence to delay Mideast trip as tax deal nears vote

Pence to delay Mideast trip as tax deal nears vote

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence is delaying his weekend departure for the Middle East as Congress nears completion of a tax overhaul, his office announced Thursday. White House officials said Pence now plans to leave for Egypt on Tuesday so he...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Pinellas Park officer stuns middle school student with Taser

PINELLAS PARK — A school resource officer stunned a middle school student with a Taser while trying to break up a fight between her and another female student on Thursday, police said.Neither the Pinellas Park officer nor the students involved in the...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Senator: Comey’s remarks on Clinton probe heavily edited

Senator: Comey’s remarks on Clinton probe heavily edited

WASHINGTON — A draft statement former FBI director James Comey prepared in anticipation of concluding the Hillary Clinton email case without criminal charges was heavily edited to change the "tone and substance" of the remarks, a Republican senator s...
Updated: 7 hours ago