Tears flowed on both sides of the aisle when a man convicted of killing two people in a DUI crash was sentenced Thursday to a minimum of 10 years in prison.
Julius Blankenship, 43, and Jennifer Taylor-Beasinger, 49, died in August after 39-year-old Antonio Romualdo-Macedo crashed his BMW into the back of a sedan that was stopped on the shoulder of Interstate 11 near Boulder City. A third person was injured.
The victims’ family members had urged District Judge Jerry Wiese II to give Romualdo-Macedo the maximum sentence — 40 years total — for his two counts of DUI resulting in death.
“My mom will never see my children. She won’t see me graduate college,” Joseph Beasinger told the judge. “I would ask of you to please show no mercy.”
But Romualdo-Macedo was sentenced to 10 to 30 years and was ordered to pay more than $9,500 in restitution. He will be eligible for parole after 10 years.
Nine of the victims’ children, siblings and parents spoke about the effect their loss had on their lives. Julius Blankenship and Taylor-Beasinger each had three children.
Several speakers, including Taylor-Beasinger’s younger sister, Brandy Taylor, said they forgave Romualdo-Macedo but still wanted him to face time for the crash.
His attorney, Michael Castillo, argued that Romualdo-Macedo had no felonies on his record and generally stayed out of trouble, despite having a misdemeanor DUI charge from 2009. Castillo said his client took a plea deal so the victims’ families wouldn’t have to suffer through a trial.
“He’s being a man. He’s standing here, and he’s taking this face-on,” Castillo said.
Romualdo-Macedo stood still with his hands cuffed in front of him and his eyes cast down while each person stepped up to speak to the judge.
“What I can say right now wouldn’t change it,” were the only words he said to the judge.
Family members criticized Romualdo-Macedo for not offering an apology when Wiese gave him a chance to speak.
“I just don’t understand how one can do something like this and not show any remorse,” Candace Blankenship said. After testifying, she ran out of the courtroom sobbing and collapsed in the hallway.
Judge Wiese choked back tears as he spoke to both families and handed down the sentence.
“I know that when you lose family members, there’s nothing that brings them back,” Wiese said. “My challenge as a judge is to balance justice with mercy.”
Wiese said he considered the fact that Romualdo-Macedo is a father and that his family wrote the judge letters before the sentencing. He also considered that Romualdo-Macedo’s then-2-year-old son was in the back seat of his car during the crash.
“It’s difficult to sentence someone whose case is knowing there’s no way to win,” he said.
When Wiese read the sentence, one of Romualdo-Macedo’s family members sobbed and banged her fists against her knees. As he was led out of the courtroom, she stood and said, “I love you, Antonio.”