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Driver going about 90 mph before crash that killed boy, 13, police say

Updated March 29, 2022 - 8:24 am

A motorist accused of killing a 13-year-old boy earlier this month had been driving recklessly before his Ford Mustang reached speeds of about 90 mph, spinning out and striking the boy, who was on a sidewalk in front of a Henderson middle school, according to his arrest report released Monday.

Henderson police said that Jose Marmolejo, 21, was seen by witnesses “speeding and driving full circles” for several minutes on a roundabout in a nearby residential neighborhood before he accelerated at speeds between 89 mph and 93 mph down Paradise Hills Drive, hitting a “significant hump” on the road that caused him to lose control of his car.

The crash was reported about 5:20 p.m. on March 7 in front of Mannion Middle School, which also is near an elementary school.

The posted speed limit outside of school hours is 35 mph, police said.

Rex Patchett, a boy remembered for his kindness, infectious laughter and love for basketball and football, died at the scene.

The boy’s family did not respond to a request for comment.

Marmolejo, who police said was not impaired, was arrested three days later and booked into the Henderson Detention Center on one felony count each of child abuse causing significant bodily harm and reckless driving causing death, court logs show. He posted a $5,000 bail and was placed under house arrest, while being restricted from driving.

Police did not say how they identified Marmolejo, and did not provide details about the arrest.

His attorney, Jess Marchese, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Attorney Thomas Moskal, a former Clark County prosecutor, said deterrence for future crashes like this would only come from harsher penalties.

He noted that the sentencing guidelines for someone convicted of reckless driving causing death in Nevada are one-to-six years behind bars with the option for a probation-only sentence.

As the lead prosecutor for the vehicular crimes unit at the Clark County District Attorney’s Office, Moskal had spearheaded second-degree murder prosecutions for serious DUI cases where the motorists were accused of driving at extreme speeds.

The Nevada Supreme Court set precedent in 2020 by reversing one of the murder convictions, he said.

Moskal said he “implores” District Attorney Steve Wolfson to be aggressive with reckless driving cases like this one, noting that there is still a “narrowly-open question” in the higher court whether those who are not impaired, but driving recklessly, can be convicted of murder.

A Supreme Court decision and the public can pressure legislators to change the law, he said.

“As offended as I am about DUI in the community, it’s almost more offensive for someone to be stone-cold sober and driving recklessly,” said Moskal, noting that Rex’s death “breaks my heart.”

Asked to comment on the case, or traffic safety in general, a Henderson spokeswoman said that Mayor Debra March and the City Council could not speak on open investigations.

Marmolejo is next due in court Thursday.

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @rickytwrites.

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