In the end, Sandor Guillen could not escape the facts in the killing of a teenage girl in one of the most horrific traffic crashes in recent South Florida history.
His blood-alcohol level was nearly triple the legal limit. He was discovered walking, bloodied and evasive, in a field near the scene of the grisly wreck. And his DNA matched the blood on the airbag of the SUV that plowed into the Camacho family minivan, shearing it in half and killing 13-year-old Kaely Camacho.
“The truth is, the evidence is overwhelming against him,” Miami-Dade prosecutor Laura Adams told jurors Monday.
The facts were too compelling, the drama too heart-wrenching. After just three hours of deliberations on Monday, jurors agreed, finding Guillen, a physical therapy assistant from Coral Gables, guilty of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident involving a death.
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Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Ellen Sue Venzer immediately ordered Guillen jailed. He faces up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced some time during the coming months.
Afterward, the grief-stricken relatives and friends of Kaely embraced each other, prosecutors and Miami-Dade detectives. Kaely’s sister, Bree Ann, who survived the April 2012 crash and was active in rallying support for the family through social media, stressed the need to combat drunken driving.
“This is a tragedy for both sides,” Bree Ann told reporters. “I lost my sister and, unfortunately, the Guillen family has to say goodbye to their son. That’s not something I wanted. I just wanted justice and mistakes to be learned from.”
Prosecutors said Guillen, 39, was speeding in a Range Rover down the U.S. 1 busway on a morning in April 2012. He plowed into the Camacho minivan as it headed down Southwest 184th Street toward U.S. 1.
The impact killed Kaely Camacho, who was riding with her father, Kirk Camacho, and 16-year-old sister, Bree Ann, who were on their way to their mother’s house to get ready for school. The force of the impact tore away the back half of the minvan and caused a plastic cupholder to drill a large, gaping wound into the girl’s skull, killing her.
An officer nabbed Guillen in the nearby field, but only after the suspect claimed he had been assaulted by unknown attackers.
Guillen’s blood alcohol level was .226, nearly triple the legal limit. “Blind stinking drunk,” Adams told jurors during closing arguments Monday.
She blasted Guillen for fleeing while the Southwood Middle School student lay dying in her father’s arms.
“When he blew through that red light, when he tore this minivan apart, do you think Sandor Guillen is going to stop and try and help?” Adams said. “Do you think he cared about the people in the minivan? No, the only person he cared about was himself.”
For jurors, Adams produced a crystal ball as a prop to mock the opinion of a defense traffic accident expert who suggested on the witness stand that Guillen was not to blame for the wreck.
The trial began last week, with father Kirk Camacho giving emotional testimony about the fateful morning.
“In a millisecond, I saw what seemed like a flash, followed by a sound. It sounded like a bomb struck,” Camacho told jurors Wednesday. “My minivan pretty much tore in half.”
Guillen’s attorney told jurors that Miami-Dade police detectives, in their haste to solve a high-profile case, miscalculated Guillen’s speed and ignored the possibility that a third car was involved.
“You had the sheriff forming a posse and finding someone to blame,” lawyer Bruce Lehr told jurors.
Lehr also suggested that Kirk Camacho ran the red light, causing the accident himself. During deliberations, jurors asked to review the father’s statements to police and lawyers.
Ultimately, they rejected the premise.
“I definitely did not go through that red light,” Kirk Camacho said. “I knew that, and thank God justice prevailed.”