On Friday, Gloucester County (NJ) Superior Court Judge Kevin Smith sentenced Rufino Lopez-Cruz, 35, to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to one count of vehicular homicide, after causing an alcohol-fueled crash that killed his roommate.
On March 23, 2013, Lopez-Cruz turned his Ford Explorer in East Greenwich, which resulted in fatal injuries to the passenger, 59-year-old Santos Perez.
At the time of the crash, Lopez-Cruz had a blood-alcohol level of .162, more than twice the legal limit, according to court documents.
The Mexican national has been living illegally in the United States for the last 16 years, speaks only Spanish and required the use of an interpreter throughout his court proceedings.
The South Jersey Times reported:
[Judge] Smith expressed doubt that five years in prison was a stiff enough penalty. A second-degree crime, vehicular homicide can bring a maximum of 10 years under New Jersey law. But the five-year sentence had been negotiated in a plea deal with prosecutors, and Smith obliged.
Lopez-Cruz must serve 85 percent of his prison term — four years and three months — before he’s eligible for parole.
Lopez-Cruz worked at a local farm, despite his illegal status in this country.