At the end of a two-hour hearing Monday, James Marcelin was sentenced to 40 years in Florida State Prison.
Marcelin, 27, was convicted by a jury on March 22 of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, two counts of DUI with serious bodily injury, two counts of reckless driving resulting in serious bodily injury, three counts of driving while license suspended or revoked, and one count each of grand theft of a motor vehicle and burglary of a conveyance.
Assistant State Attorney Amy Smith argued that Marcelin should be sentenced to the max because “he is a danger to society.”
Marcelin had been partying all day on April 16, 2015, when he made the decision to drive three of his friends to Haines City. The four men started the day in Winter Haven, where they drank alcohol, smoked marijuana, and did drugs.
They went to a second party in Orlando, where they continued to drink and smoke. When they ran out of marijuana, Marcelin got behind the wheel of the van and attempted to drive them to another party in Haines City.
At about 11:15 p.m., while traveling at least 20 MPH over the speed limit, Marcelin drifted off the road way and lost control, braking for 88 feet before crashing head-on into a tree. The collision killed 19-year-old Andrew Valdez and critically injured Jose Almanzar and James Richards.
Valdez was thrown from the front passenger seat and into the windshield, where he was entrapped. He lost consciousness and never regained it.
He died on May 14, 2015.
Almanzar had a broken spine and a brain bleed. Richards had a cracked skull, which required 22 staples.
Both men were unconscious after the collision.
Marcelin had his right leg broken in two spots and a broken left arm, broken pelvis, sternum, and ribs. Multiple witnesses saw him in the driver’s seat and said he was the only occupant still conscious.
Judge Roddenbery agreed with Smith’s argument that Marcelin is a danger, and he was designated a habitual offender.
Roddenbery handed down a 40-year prison sentence, and at the defense’s objection to the lengthy sentence, the judge reminded him that it was because Marcelin’s reckless actions seriously injured two people and killed another.