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Aunt: Hit-and-Run Suspect 'Less Than Human'

Posted April 14, 2008
Updated April 16, 2008

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— Police said an unlicensed driver was drunk and operating a stolen car when he struck and critically injured a 7-year-old boy in Johnston County on Sunday.

The driver, Pollo Hernandez Rodriquez, appeared before a judge Monday, and relatives said doctors at Duke University Hospital declared Marcus Lassiter, 7, brain dead.

Rodriquez faces charges of felony hit and run, driving while impaired, driving without a license, driving a stolen car and causing serious injury with a motor vehicle.

"I think he was less than a human," the boy's aunt, Mary Ann Cooley, said. "I think he should get the maximum punishment."

Through an interpreter, the judge and an assistant district attorney explained the charges to Rodriquez. The judge kept his bond at $1 million.

Relatives said Marcus’ leg was broken and he had brain damage. He was not breathing on his own Monday and remained on life support as doctors continued to perform tests, said family members, who remained at his  bedside.

If the boy dies, state troopers said they would bring more charges against Rodriquez. Meanwhile, authorities were working to determine his immigration status.

The arrest brought little comfort to the family, relatives said.

"He's just a very sweet little, happy boy, full of energy," Cooley said.

State troopers said Marcus was trying to cross Heath Road when he was struck. An adult had been watching him and another young child play in the yard, his aunt said.

"He was on the edge of the yard, and the car came by going 60 in a 45, and the man was drunk," Cooley said. "And he hit him, and he got out of the car, looked at everybody and ran."

Police said they arrested Rodriquez after he tried to flee from the scene. Marcus was flown to Duke for treatment.

Residents told WRAL that the speed limit in the area is 45 mph, but motorists often drive much faster. A resident whom WRAL interviewed said he has seen Rodriquez speeding through the neighborhood before.

“I’ve seen him speeding through here. My guess is he's doing at least 60 mph, no less. That’s a little fast for all the houses around this development,” Rob Hamilton said.

111 Comments

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  • news4u Apr 16, 2008

    I was there moments after this happened. Once captured "Pollo" spoke decent English to Allen Hester but when the deputies handed him over to the troopers he was "no comprende". He also has a prior DWI arrest in NC under a different alias. Make sure you have an uninsured motorist clause in your insurance policy because there are a lot of illegal drivers out there. Once you break one law what's another? We need license checkpoints everyday until we get a handle on this situation. Be proactive rather than reactive!

  • toocutefb Apr 14, 2008

    Praying for this family--

  • leo-nc Apr 14, 2008

    "If you can not respond to this I understand. Are you allowed to contact ICE? Or does policy dictate that you just make arrests and then it is out of your hands?"-whatelseisnew

    The issue is that you can contact ICE all day long. Getting a response out of them is the real issue. Unless you have a busload of illegals it's almost impossible to get them to do anything. They are seriously understaffed and lack the budget to do anything else.

  • leo-nc Apr 14, 2008

    "Leo, my point was this forum was not the place to go into the illegal immigration issue, the issue is some flipping idiot got drunk, got behind the wheel of a car, & caused something undefinably horrible to happen - doesn't matter the color, race or ethnicity of that person" -brandeedee

    I understand your point but I respectfully disagree. I'm not saying anything about this guy when I post this, but in general... If those who commit crimes in our country are here illegally in the first place, then it's kind of like the fruit of the poison tree; the second crime wouldn't have happened if the first one (illegal alien) was prosecuted correctly in the first place (or at all).

  • nursevb8 Apr 14, 2008

    What question is there. They saw him hit this boy, get out of a stolen vehicle and run. There is no alleged anything. He did it. I agree, there should be no tax payers trial. Regardless of where this child was playing, unless it was IN the road, this person could just as easily ran into a yard and hit someone. Illegal or legal is not the question. They you can't fix stupid, this person isn't stupid. See how long he has avoided the police with driving without a license, no insurance-that's because the car was stolen, how often did he drink and drive, and of course, was he already on probation and maybe going by an alias name? He flat out broke the law in a very serious way. These parents will have to live with this the rest of their lives. Whether they have to disconnect life support or the child breathes on his own, he is still brain damaged and that is a life long committment!!! See how his cell mates like him.

  • CarolinianByChoice Apr 14, 2008

    "HA! Come ride with me for a week and you might change your mind. it has a LOT to do with it . . . Leo-NC". Leo, my point was this forum was not the place to go into the illegal immigration issue, the issue is some flipping idiot got drunk, got behind the wheel of a car, & caused something undefinably horrible to happen - doesn't matter the color, race or ethnicity of that person. Yes, we have an issue with illegal immigation-and I would love to expound on the strain it causing this country - but only in the right forum. This story didn't state this idiot was was an illegal alien. There are other parts of the country that have problems with large illegal immigration populations and crime - - and only a small fraction of that population is hispanic. Sounds like you are out there doing your job, but the judicial system isn't handing out anything but a wrist slap - must be frustrating as all get out to keep arresting someone only to see them on the street again a short time later.

  • whatelseisnew Apr 14, 2008

    tinetine1963

    The fact that the man fled the scene tells you he knew he was in trouble with the law.

  • meatwrapper Apr 14, 2008

    When will people from other countries learn our english language ?????/ Should we visit other countries ,,, we have to learn thier language in order to communicate///// Maybe this is why other orgins do not understand OUR LAWS !!!!!!!!

  • kenloe3981 Apr 14, 2008

    Facts are just that facts! Am i the only one here who knows anyone in law enforcement? Check out the stats on hit and runs and DWIs. Go down to the health department sometime .....How about the schools? Our system is being raped and robbed.

  • whatelseisnew Apr 14, 2008

    leo-nc

    If you can not respond to this I understand. Are you allowed to contact ICE? Or does policy dictate that you just make arrests and then it is out of your hands?

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