Hernandez was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was given 10 years for intoxication assault and fifteen years for intoxication manslaughter to be served concurrently. With the current system, he will be eligible for parole in seven and half years. Sue Smith (the injured Milton Smith’s wife) did mention tentative plans to be at the parole hearing nearly eight years from now to ensure that Hernandez serves his full sentence.
Milton Smith told the DallasCrimeBlog that, “I think it turned out as good as could be expected.” He and his wife will be continuing forward with their lives now that the trial is over. Smith still has a lot of physical rehab ahead of him. He spoke poignantly of hoping this case makes a difference for the overall safety of the community, “Hopefully this story will touch somebody, and this won’t have to happen again.”
Juan Ramon Hernandez entered a guilty plea at his trial for the March 18 wrong-way drunk-driving accident that resulted in the death of Neri Garcia and the serious injury of Milton Smith. The accident occurred early Sunday morning of St. Patrick’s day weekend. Hernandez drove his Chevy Tahoe down the wrong-way on I-20 and struck Smith’s Chevy Monte Carlo. Garcia was a passenger in Hernandez’s vehicle. Hernandez’s blood alcohol level was reported to be .224 compared to the .08 legal limit. Hernandez had a criminal history including an arrest in 2008 for possession of a controlled substance.
Hernandez will now undergo the punishment phase of his trial where the jury will decide how many prison years and fines he will face. On trial for both intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault, he faces 2-10 years in prison for manslaughter and an additional 2-10 years for assault. In fines he could be looking at as much as $20,000.
The DallasCrimeBlog which has been reporting on the story, noted that Milton Smith already gave his very emotional and meaningful testimony to the jury. The blog reports that he spoke of his intense injuries – including bleeding in the brain, two broken legs and several broken ribs. He also told the jury that he had lost his job.