Illegal immigrant convicted in fatal hit-and-run
Posted August 22, 2008 6:01 p.m. EDT
Updated August 22, 2008 11:29 p.m. EDT
Smithfield, N.C. — A Johnston County jury on Friday found an illegal immigrant guilty in connection with a fatal hit-and-run that killed a Clayton man and his son more than a year ago.
Luciano Tellez, 32, was convicted of one count of felony hit-and-run and two counts of second-degree murder in the March 4, 2007, deaths of Jerry "Duane" Braswell, 35, and his 9-year-old son, Jerry Braswell Jr.
Authorities said Tellez ran a stop sign at the intersection of N.C. Highway 210 and Plainview Church Road near Angier and rammed into a tractor-trailer that Braswell was driving and in which his son was riding. The rig veered off the road, overturned and caught fire, killing Braswell and his son. Tellez, who authorities believe was drinking, fled the scene on foot.
Tellez was to sentenced to 32 to 40 years in prison, with the three sentences to be served one after the other. He also is under a federal detainer, which means that he will be turned over to federal authorities for deportation when his sentence is complete.
Before sentencing, the elder Braswell's father testified that Tellez showed no emotion during the trial and had no remorse for what he did, and he asked that Tellez get a maximum sentence.
"Instead of running to try to help my son, he ran from the scene," he said. "He left my son and grandson to burn to death."
Tellez told the court earlier Friday that it was his friend who was driving and that he agreed to take the blame after his friend agreed to bail him out of jail.
He also said he did not know the collision was fatal and that if he had known, he would have stayed to talk with investigators.
Tellez's defense attorney summarized letters from his family who said he is a "good and respectful person," a good provider for his wife and children and that he had to immigrate to the U.S. from Mexico to provide for his family and his sick mother.
At the time of his arrest, he was wanted for violating his probation on a drunken driving conviction in 2005 and had a suspended license.