Conses Garcia-Zacarias, the Southeast man who was behind the wheel of a Ford F350 pickup that killed a mother and daughter in Brewster on June 8th, has been charged with first degree vehicular manslaughter, a felony, and driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor. Garcia-Zacarias allegedly drove the vehicle with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.15 percent, well in excess of the legal limit of 0.08 percent, when he struck Lori Donohue, 37, and her eight year old daughter Kayla, as they were leaving the Seven Stars School of Performing Arts on Rt. 6 in Brewster at 6:30 PM on June 8th. Garcia-Zacarias does not have a license and is in the United States illegally, according to authorities.
The Ford truck is owned by Valerie Ann Renihan, a northern Westchester horse trainer, who has claimed through her attorney that Mr. Garcia-Zacarias stole the keys and did not have permission to drive the vehicle. However, the lawyer did acknowledge that Mr. Garcia-Zacarias, who listed his occupation on a bail form as “horse farm”, had done work for Ms. Renihan in the past.
This case has stirred debate over the twin problems of illegal immigration and unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, especially in light of calls over the last several years to provide a path to citizenship for those who are here illegally and must operate a vehicle to go to work. Prior to his fall from grace, Governor Elliot Spitzer had offered a proposal for various types of licenses in New York State, which recognized the fact that many undocumented workers are driving vehicles and should be properly trained to do so. However, those proposals died out when Spitzer was forced to resign early last year.
Representatives of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) contend that the issue is not undocumented laborers operating motor vehicles, but rather the need for stricter enforcement and penalties for New York DWI’s in that this tragedy could just have easily been caused by a United States citizen or legal resident as an undocumented worker.
Mr. Garcia-Zacarias is being held without bail at the Putnam County jail. He will be represented by Putnam County Legal Aid, according to chief attorney Patrick Brophy. The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement has filed a detainer against Garcia-Zacarias, and in all likelihood, he will face removal (deportation) proceedings at the completion of any criminal sentence against him if he is convicted, or immediately if the charges are not proven.
If you or a family member have been charged with a New York felony, New York misdemeanor, or any traffic violation, contact the New York criminal defense attorneys at the White Plains, New York Law Office of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at 888-761-7633, for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options with an experienced, knowledgeable attorney.