A Washington man will spend nearly 16 years in prison for driving drunk and crashing into another vehicle May 19 in Hermiston, killing a 7-year-old girl and seriously injuring her mother.
Jesus Moras Nava, 30, pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault before Judge Eva Temple in Umatilla County Circuit Court.
Nava was sentenced to a combined 190 months for the two felonies that led to the death of Taleeya Maria Roquez, a first-grader at A.C. Houghton Elementary School in Irrigon. In addition, Nava pleaded guilty to DUII and four counts of recklessly endangering another person, a Class A misdemeanor, with the added jail time to run concurrently with his prison sentence.
Nava must pay a mandatory $2,000 fine for registering a blood-alcohol level higher than .15 following the crash.
The night of May 19, Nava whose last address was listed in Paterson, Washington was driving drunk heading northbound on Highway 395 in Hermiston when he slammed into the back of a vehicle stopped at the intersection of Punkin Center Road. Roquez, who was properly restrained in the backseat, died at the scene.
The girls mother, Leslie Ann Roquez, suffered injuries to her face, ribs, lungs and liver.
Family members teared up in court as they remembered the little girl with brown hair, wide brown eyes and a smile that her aunt Tohnya Brandenburg said went on for miles.
I cannot even begin to explain how important Taleeya was to our family, Brandenburg said during an emotional statement. The pain this has caused my sister and her husband is without words.
Leslie Roquez also addressed the court, saying her injuries were nothing compared to the hurt of losing her child.
For his part, Nava appeared contrite and remorseful as he offered an apology for his actions. Though he could not recall the incident or offer any explanation, Nava said the crash has stained my soul forever, and he will spend the rest of his life dedicated to becoming a better person.
I wish I could go back in time and change everything, he said. I wish I could trade my life for your daughter. I would take that as a blessing.
Navas criminal history includes three prior arrests for drunk driving, but no convictions, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Bunney. Nava also admitted in 2010 to menacing two females, for which he received two years probation.