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Illegal Immigrant Pleads Guilty in Fatal I-40 Wreck

Posted November 15, 2007

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— An illegal immigrant who was driving drunk and veered across a highway median, slamming into two cars during the morning commute and killing a Cary man, pleaded guilty Thursday.

Ricardo De Latorre, 24, pleaded guilty to two counts of felony assault involving seriously bodily injury and one count of felony death by a motor vehicle in the June 4 death of George Alwyn Smith, 54.

Through a translator, he apologized Thursday before being sentenced to 25 to 39 months in prison and deportation after his sentence.

Smith was on his way to Duke University, where he worked as a computer programmer, at about 7:15 a.m. when the Chevrolet Tahoe that De Latorre was driving east veered across the median onto westbound Interstate 40 near the Wade Avenue split in Raleigh and hit Smith's car.

The Tahoe later struck another vehicle, injuring Carolyn Hageman, 35, of Apex.

"I will never forget what it sounded like when I was hit – the metal crushing or the horrid smell of the airbag when it deployed," Hageman said Thursday.

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Adam Moyers said De Latorre's blood alcohol concentration at a local hospital was 0.14 and that De Latorre admitted he had been drinking the night before the accident.

De Latorre was captured twice in April 2004 trying to cross from Mexico into California. His fingerprints helped determine his identity.

He has no prior criminal convictions, but authorities have said he might have used aliases while in the United States and that there was a three-year period in which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcements had no record of him.

Smith's family and friends were in court for Thursday's proceedings, carrying photos of him.

They described him as a man who touched many lives in a way he never talked about publicly.

"After he died, there were people who would come up to me and tell me, like in the video, 'He came over with a car full of stuff after my house burned down,'" his son, Chris Smith, said.

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  • Shadow213 Nov 16, 2007

    iamforjustice-- this guy may be sorry for what he did, the problem with having illegal immigrants in this country is that they cost those who ARE here legally lots of tax dollars. He isn't paying the taxes we do that ultimately go towards keeping our prisons running, our welfare programs working, etc etc. And, in the instance of the man he killed...he's cost him his life.

  • hdonthefarm Nov 16, 2007

    BRAD07LEY - You're so right. We do need to stand up for our country. It's time for American citizens to band together and stop this insanity. Anybody on the site have any ideas, or links to groups that are ready to march for our rights? Elections are coming up, and it's time to people in office who will listen to us.

  • Bradley07 Nov 16, 2007

    "I believe we can do so without jeopardizing the livelihoods of American citizens."--G.W. Bush January, 2004

    Well I would say that a murder vehicular or otherwise is JEOPARDIZING us American citizens!!

    4TLBs dejanupe > amen to your posts

    WE US CITIZENS NEED TO STAND UP!!!

  • iamforjustice Nov 16, 2007

    Stop demoralizing him because he is of latin descent. He is a human that made a mistake. He is no more illegal here than we are. Our forefathers stole this land and who are we to call someone illegal. I know his conscious is getting the best of him. There is nothing man can do to help him. It is between him and his God for retribution. Pray for him and do not dam him. He is very sorry for what he did.

  • BUCKEYEnNC Nov 16, 2007

    Gandalf said, "This drunken illegal invader kills a man while driving drunk and only gets 2 to 3 years in prison. Then will be deported. This is a disgrace. I can only imagine the victim’s family and the anger they must be going through right now knowing this animal will be free in 3 years."

    Worse yet, he'll probably be back shortly thereafter!!!!

  • They call me CATMAN Nov 16, 2007

    WHEN IS SOMETHING GOING TO DONE ABOUT THIS JUNK GOING ON. I KNOW I HAVE HAD ENOUGH. MAKE SURE YOU MAKE SURE WE VOTE FOR CANIDATES IN 2008 WHO WILL DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS ILLEGAL INVASION TO OUR COUNTRY.

  • richard2 Nov 16, 2007

    If you vote for same the people in office again you deserve what you get!

  • dougalu Nov 16, 2007

    Sad thing is, this guy would rather been in jail in NC than been free in Mexico

  • pwilliamson53 Nov 16, 2007

    This person enters our country and kills a person, and even may have used false names?? This doesn't make sense. It was a slap on the wrist and deportation in which if he slipped in once,twice or more times, he could do it again. This is so unfair for the family that lost their loved one. A person that is legally a citizen would have gotten more time. This doesn't make any sense and it's a slap in the face to all Americans that has lived here,worked here and paid taxes to live here and support our nation. Only to have someone illegally enter and kill our citizen. This is just sick and disgusting. Where is our court systems heading and why such a light sentence?

  • MarcoPolo Nov 15, 2007

    WHO WAS THE JUDGE WHO SENTENCED SR. CONTRERAS-DE LA TORRE?

    That's seems slightly important. Maybe I'm missing something?

    Also what the article failed to mention is that Contreras-de la Torre had a passenger. Who also lied about his own identity because he too was illegal. This drinking buddy had been deported from Laredo, TX,in 10/00. Fingerprints helped solve this mystery.

    BOTH HE AND HIS PASSENGER WERE MORE WORRIED ABOUT DEPORTATION VERSUS THE MAN THEY HAD JUST KILLED. This will make it a little uncomfortable if/when they get "interviewed" at the border. BIG FREAKIN DEAL!! From the N&O, "Contreras-de la Torre initially gave state Highway Patrol officials the name Michael De Latorre. "

    Shouldn't have to find out somebody's identity via FINGERPRINTS.

    Wasted death. God rest his soul. My deepest condolences/sympathies go out to his family & his friends. Just a nightmare- HORRIBLE.

    Why can't another judge or politician step in and right this terrible wron

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