Man sentenced in vehicular manslaughter case

02/21/2013 5:05 PM

02/21/2013 5:11 PM

A 20-year-old man who killed his younger brother in a car crash more than two years ago was sentenced today in the Merced County Superior Court.

Nicholas Daniel Saucedo was sentenced to three years of probation and one day in jail with credit for time served, said Deputy District Attorney Gerad Egan, the prosecutor in the case.

The sentence handed down by Judge Marc Garcia includes community service hours, where Saucedo will lecture others about traffic safety, Egan said. Saucedo will also pay fines and fees of $440 and his driver's license will be suspended for three years.

Saucedo pleaded no contest last month to a felony count of gross vehicular manslaughter.

As part of an agreement, two other charges were dropped – felony operation of a vehicle with willful disregard for safety of persons and property, and misdemeanor reckless driving.

Toxicology reports show Saucedo wasn't under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash, and Egan thinks that played into Garcia's decision.

"He was held accountable for what he did in the sense that he plead to the highest charge that was filed against him – gross vehicular manslaughter – which is a serious felony charge," Egan said.

Deputy Public Defender Sean Howard, who represented Saucedo, thought the sentence was fair.

Despite the punishment that was handed down to Saucedo, the ultimate punishment already happened – the death of his brother, Howard noted.

"For the rest of your life, your life is changed by that experience," Howard said. "You're already negatively impacted by your own conduct."

Howard thinks Saucedo giving testimony to others won't only help to prevent similar tragedies in the future – it'll also help Saucedo deal with his own grief.

"He's very eager and he's kind of excited about going into the schools and giving testimonials because I think he wants to help other people avoid going through this process that he's had to endure," Howard said. "He doesn't want them to have that experience."

The 2010 crash happened in the 800 block of East Yosemite Avenue.

Saucedo was driving a Nissan Altima just after 10 a.m. eastbound on Yosemite Avenue at about 75 mph in a 45 mph zone, while another driver was traveling west on Yosemite in a Toyota Camry.

Saucedo swerved and the Altima started to skid sideways into the westbound lane. The Altima crashed head-on into the Camry, and then hit a tree on the north side of Yosemite and broadsided a wall.

Saucedo's 9-year-old brother, Daniel, was ejected from the car and killed when he was pinned between the Altima and the wall. Saucedo's other brother, Richard, suffered several injuries in the crash. None of the three occupants were wearing seat belts.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or mnorth@mercedsunstar.com.

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