It Has To Be One Strike, You're Gone For Those Here Illegally
A version of this originally appeared in The Virginian-Pilot on August 5, 2010.
When we last saw Alfredo Ramos, he was sporting a smirk and an orange jumpsuit as he was led out of a Virginia Beach courtroom by sheriff's deputies.
Three years later, the Mexican man resides in a cell in the Greensville Correctional Center, where he is serving 24 years.
Taxpayers are picking up the annual tab for his room and board, which runs about $24,332.
Ramos, you might recall, was the drunk who in March of 2007 plowed into the rear of a car that was stopped at a light on Virginia Beach Boulevard. He killed Alison Kunhardt, 17, and Tessa Tranchant, 16.
It was bad enough that Ramos was in the U.S. illegally. Worse was news that he'd been arrested earlier and never asked about his immigration status.
The inconvenient truth is that if Ramos had been unceremoniously tossed out of the country after his first brush with American law enforcement Tessa and Ali would still be alive.
Yes, it's true that most drunken drivers in the United States are Americans. We're stuck with these homegrown hairballs. But there's no reason we should be dealing with repeat offenders who are here illegally.
Like Carlos Martinelly-Montano. He's a Bolivian who's allegedly an illegal immigrant. Two years ago, after one of two DUI convictions, Martinelly-Montano was turned over to the feds for deportation.
If only they had acted.
Instead, Martinelly-Montano was released. He was still waiting for a hearing last weekend when, according to police, he got drunk and drove a 1997 Subaru Outback. No, he didn't have a driver's license.
On Sunday morning, Martinelly-Montano's vehicle reportedly hit a Toyota head-on. One passenger was killed, and two others were flown to the hospital in critical condition.
Martinelly-Montano is lucky in a way. The woman who died was a 66-year-old Benedictine nun, Sister Denise Mosier.
That means when Martinelly-Montano goes to trial, there may not be sobbing parents or heartbroken young siblings in the courtroom as there were in Virginia Beach when Ramos' case was heard.
In fact, there may be entreaties from religious types, asking for forgiveness for the accused.
A report in The Washington Post this week quoted a spokeswoman for the Benedictine Sisters objecting to publicity about Martinelly-Montano's immigration status.
"He's a child of God..." began Sister Glenda Smith.
According to news reports, friends of Mosier say that if she had survived the accident, she surely would have forgiven Martinelly-Montano and urged him to get help for his alcohol problems.
That's nice. But it doesn't matter. Forgiveness is a personal virtue, not something the justice system routinely doles out.
In fact, the Prince William County commonwealth's attorney, Paul Ebert, who spent some time in Hampton Roads when he prosecuted the Beltway sniper cases a few years ago, doesn't seem predisposed toward mercy.
Ebert said this week that he will ask a grand jury to indict Martinelly-Montano for murder - he's currently charged with manslaughter - because the suspect killed Mosier while committing a felony: his third DUI.
Go for it, Mr. Ebert.
If it turns out that Martinelly-Montano really was drunk at 8 on a Sunday morning, if he did kill one woman and gravely injure two others, he should be prosecuted, convicted and moved into Ramos' densely populated neighborhood.
Still, we all know what's coming: tedious arguments from the open-borders crowd, who will insist that being an illegal immigrant had nothing to do with this crime.
Sorry. It had everything to do with it.
If Martinelly-Montano had been deported after his first run-in with the law, he'd be in Bolivia right now. And not in the news.