Man gets 9-year sentence for deadly collision after night of drinking

Joselito Meza appears Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Kern County court in Bakersfield, Calif., for his sentencing in a deadly DUI crash. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

A man was sentenced Thursday to nine years in prison for a deadly 2015 collision.

Joselito Meza hit and killed 22-year-old Miguel Angel Aldaco on Buena Vista Road following a night a drinking.

In Thursday morning's sentencing, Meza spoke to Aldaco's family, and they also made statements to the court.

"The senseless action of Mr. Meza took my son," Nicky Escalera said. "I don't hate you, I hate what you did. I hate that you left my son dead on the ground."

Aldaco was found dead on the median, and Meza made up a story about a carjacking. Meza's car, which had front-end damage, was found in a nearby parking lot.

Nicole Prater told the court she taught Aldaco in high school, and she said his death a real loss.

"A young man who embraced life and cherished his friends," she said. "A young man who loved to laugh and make you smile. A young man who was always there for his family and friends, and ironically he died alone."

The Kern County District Attorney's Office said the men were friends who got into a drunken fist fight. Meza then took Aldaco's clothes and phone, and he hit Aldaco with his car while Aldaco was standing on the median.

Deputy District Attorney Garrett Rice said surveillance video obtained during the investigation showed that Meza then drove past his dead friend's body.

"It is our belief that he absolutely knew what he had done, before going to the Cruz Thru (car wash) on Buena Vista and White Lane to call in a fabricated 911 carjacking," Rice said after the sentencing.

Meza told Aldaco's family he is sorry.

"I just truly want you guys to know that I'm sorry," he said. "Truly, I'm sorry." He said Aldaco had lived with him for three months.

Meza said it didn't change things, but he didn't remember what happened that night, or leaving Aldaco on the street.

Meza also said he's now working on programs to prevent drunk driving.

"I can truly tell you guys it truly changed me, all this," he said. "And, I tried doing what I could to honor Mikey's name."

Meza was found guilty last month of four felonies related to DUI and hit-and-run. On Thursday, the judge said the 9-year sentence is substantial, and he also hopes that it serves as a warning to others, and that it will help prevent drunk driving.

He called the crime a serious one, and noted Meza had made up an "elaborate story" to tell police. The judge also said Meza has a limited prior criminal history, and expressed remorse.

Aldaco's mother said her son was a good-hearted person, he had just signed up for college courses, and wanted to be a counselor to help young people.

Escalera said the sentence would not bring her son back.

"But, justice has been made on Earth," she said. "And one day, Mr. Meza, you'll see a bigger judge. And that day, you'll have to explain to Him why you took my son's life."

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