The case of Jose O. Vasquez-Guillen in St. Paul, Minnesota

The Star Tribune posted an update today on the case of Jose O. Vasquez-Guillen, a 20 year-old native of El Salvador.

On April 3, 2019, Jose O. Vasquez-Guillen caused a two-vehicle crash south of the St. Paul Downtown Airport that killed Mark J. O'Gara, age 52, of St. Paul, and injured a passenger in another vehicle.

Court charges say Vasquez-Guillen's blood alcohol content after the crash was 0.149%, which is well above the legal limit for drivers age 21 or older in Minnesota. He also was driving without a license when he hit Mark O'Gara's car.

Shawn Byers, acting director at the ICE field office in St. Paul, says Vasquez-Guillen illegally entered the United States in January 2016, unaccompanied at the age of 15, in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. As his immigration case proceeded he missed a court date and in August 2016 a judge in Dallas ordered him deported — wherever he was.

The Star Tribune reports that on December 20, Vasquez-Guillen reached a plea deal with the Ramsey County Attorney's Office in which the criminal vehicular homicide count resulting from Mark O'Gara's death was dismissed, in exchange for Vasquez-Guillen admitting to criminal vehicular operation, causing minor injuries to a woman riding with O'Gara.

In Minnesota, a charge of criminal vehicular homicide is applied if a person accidentally causes the death of a human being as a result of operating a motor vehicle, among other possibilities, while under the influence of alcohol. A person guilty of criminal vehicular homicide may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than ten years or fined not more than $20,000, or both.

Upon conviction, and with pending sentencing that could have meant a three-year prison term, Jose O. Vasquez-Guillen was turned over to the custody of ICE agents and put on a flight back to El Salvador.

If he hadn't been allowed to miss that court date in 2016, or — better — if he had never been able to enter the country illegally in the first place, that fatal crash wouldn't have happened.


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