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Man Sentenced in Triple-Fatal DWI Crash

Posted August 14, 2007

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— A Sanford man was sentenced Monday to 48 to 60 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to killing three people in a drunken-driving wreck last fall.

Pastor Rios Sanchez, 56, pleaded guilty to three counts of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of Meg Hughes, Jennifer Carter and Ben Leonard.

Prosecutors dismissed all other traffic violations against him, including driving while impaired and driving on the wrong side of the highway. Sanchez was also given credit for the 10 months he has already served while awaiting trial.

Hughes, 22, of Summerville, S.C., Carter, 18, of Jacksonville, both students at North Carolina State University, and Hughes' stepbrother, 16-year-old Leonard, were returning to Raleigh from Lee County on Oct. 27 when a 1999 Dodge Intrepid crossed the center line on N.C. Highway 42 about five miles east of Sanford, authorities said.

The Intrepid collided head-on with Hughes' 1990 Toyota Corolla station wagon, killing Hughes and Carter instantly. Leonard died during surgery at Central Carolina Hospital, authorities said.


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  • teresascott152 Aug 15, 2007

    Thank You jhnewman, your absolutely right. I can't begin to express how I really feel, they would't post it. They only want the sugar coated versions, but I can't sugarcoat the fact that because of sanchez, I'll never see my nephew and niece again. I also want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers, God bless.

  • sneakers Aug 15, 2007

    It is without a doubt sad how we approach this situation. You can use your car to kill people and spend less than 5 years in a prison. On the other hand someone can walk up to someone in a park with a gun pull the trigger and get life in prison if not sentenced to death. So is your car not a weapon possibly a 4000lb weapon?
    Here is another death by vehicle just ruled on this week:

  • sec Aug 15, 2007

    He should be in prison for life, not 4 years. He's serving 1.5 years, approimately, for each young life he took. There's something VERY wrong with that picture.

  • Minerva Aug 15, 2007

    According to other reports he had been arrested three times since 2005 for not having a driver's license or registration. This could have been prevented. We are sending the message that it is okay to disregard our laws. It makes me sick to think of the three young lives he destroyed - and that he will probably be out of jail and sneaking back across our border in just a few years' time. I am disgusted with the prosecutors and judges in this case and ashamed to be from Lee County.

  • LoveOneAnotherAsChristTaught Aug 15, 2007

    Hi GoPanthers,

    I agree with firmer laws for substance abuse and driving. I think society would benefit from a zero tolerance policy - as in some other countries. This means if you drink and drive you automatically loose your license for a very long time. Period.

    The condemned man will, indeed, live with what he did every day for the rest of his life. All he can do is fall on his knees and beg forgiveness and strive to do better. He is reviled by everyone, hated....for what he has done.

    I just think that what he has done doesnt touch what that Fl Pedophile did to that little girl...with premeditative intention.

    This is why I think some leniency is warranted.

  • 1crazygirl Aug 15, 2007

    As a Lee County Voter, I will find out who the judge was in this case and he WILL NOT get my vote next election. This is just a disgrace.

  • Like that Aug 15, 2007

    The justice system is not designed to treat every case the exact same, that would not be fair. There are always circumstances that make each case different. This may have been his first offense as many others that have killed someone while driving drunk. If you go back and recall cases on DWI convictions you will see that many get away with vehicular manslaughter, misdemeanor death by vehicle, and other seemingly 'petty' charges that carry little to no prison time or criminal record.

  • NCGal Aug 15, 2007

    The Lee County DA's office let these families down. I hope all remember this when Doyle comes up for re-election.

  • HEYGwenCOG Aug 15, 2007

    Reminds me of the Larry Veeder case. He was only sentenced to 8-11 years and he killed 6 people and injured 2 others.

    And THAT'S why I don't believe in the death penalty. Its use is inequitable.

  • Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Aug 15, 2007

    "here XXX number of DWI arrests/deaths etc daily in this area but why only the ones commited by hispanics get a news article?"

    This week I saw three articles dealing with DWI deaths on WRAL. One white male, one Hispanic male and one black male. Quit your whining.