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Drunken driver will get prison, deported

Published: Sat, January 28, 2012 @ 12:05 a.m.

By Peter H. Milliken



The drunken driver who seriously injured two college students in a head-on collision on Western Reserve Road last summer is going to prison for eight years, after which he’ll be deported to Mexico.

Judge John M. Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court imposed the prison time Friday on Victor Manuel Galindo- Barjas, 36, who earlier had pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated vehicular assault and one count of drunken driving in the July 25 crash.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol reported that Barjas had a blood-alcohol content of 0.273 — more than three times the state legal limit of 0.08.

“The choice to drink and drive is like placing a bullet in a gun ... and pulling the trigger,” said Judge Durkin, adding that the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement will deport Barjas to his native Mexico when his prison term ends.

“The defendant that night chose to drink and then chose to drive afterward,” said Nicholas Brevetta, an assistant county prosecutor. “The victims didn’t have the opportunity to make a choice. They’re victims by his decision,” said Brevetta, who sought a 10-year prison term.

Defense lawyer Miriam Ocasio said her client is “extremely remorseful” and has no prior criminal record and called for the minimum prison term, which would have been one year.

“The scars that I live with will never completely fade,” said a tearful Bruce Minotti Jr., 20, of Youngstown, who suffered a broken foot, hip and elbow in the crash. He still walks with a cane.

Minotti said he suffered “indescribable pain” and emotional scars and that his lost schooling set him back at least a year. “I will never fully recover,” he said.

“It has caused unspeakable, unthinkable, unimaginable despair, pain and suffering and deep grief, emotionally and physically, to me and everyone around me,” said Lauren Carissimi, 19, of Canfield, Minotti’s girlfriend and passenger.

Carissimi said she suffered a broken arm and torn neck ligaments and had to drop out of college and quit her job.

Both victims resumed their college studies this month, Minotti at Youngstown State University and Carissimi at Kent State University.

“I’m really very sorry for what happened. ... I didn’t mean to harm them,” Barjas, a native Spanish speaker, said through state-certified court interpreter John P. Shaklee of North Canton.

Barjas said he drank to celebrate after hearing from his wife the news of the impending birth of their first-born son. “I’m hoping to God that they can recover. ... I’d like you to forgive me,” Barjas told the judge.


1CHARLIEHORSE(4 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

another outstanding job by the MCPO! Team Gains!

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2southsidedave(5199 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

...prison for eight years, after which he’ll be deported to Mexico....does not seem like a just sentence

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3pol26(26 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

“It has caused unspeakable, unthinkable, unimaginable despair, pain and suffering and deep grief, emotionally and physically, to me and everyone around me,”

Did someone die? I didn't see that part. Talk about a pity party. How does this guy get 8 years when no one died? If a WASP committed this crime and they had both died, the WASP would get 18 months in prison. In fact I know someone who was in a very similar accident caused by a drunk driver and it never hit the papers. Took him years to recover. Lost every tooth in his mouth. Why didn't we just string this guy up outside the courthouse and hang him? Considering the level of pain felt by the victims and the fact that they will never recover, I think hanging the man might have helped them feel better, at least for a day or so.

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