CARSON CITY — After six minutes in court Monday, Samuel Gallardo returned to state prison facing at least three more years on his sentence but knowing that the family of the man whose death he caused had forgiven him.
“I told his defenders, let him know that we forgive him,” the victim’s brother said after the hearing.
Gallardo’s sentencing brings to a close a nearly 30-year odyssey for the family of Gary Selby Jr. Gallardo was serving a 20-year sentence for a fatal 1992 drunken driving crash that killed Selby when he walked away from a minimum security prison camp in 1994.
He spent nearly 27 years as a fugitive before he was found, with the investigative help of the victim’s family, living on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Now 52, he was returned to Nevada custody in April.
On Monday, Judge James Todd Russell added three to 7½ additional years to Gallardo’s sentence for the escape.
“I would like to apologize,” Gallardo said in court, speaking through an interpreter. “I was young and ignorant. I’m not a bad person. It’s mistakes that we make in life, and I’m here to take care of it now.”
Gary Selby Jr. was 18 when Gallardo, driving the wrong way, struck Selby’s vehicle, killing him and injuring two passengers. Gallardo walked away from the Stewart Conservation Camp north of Carson City on Feb. 24, 1994, less than a year after beginning his 20-year sentence.
Selby’s parents, Gary Sr. and Stephanie, younger brother Dennis, and Dennis’s wife, Jodie, drove from Vacaville, Calif., to be in court for Gallardo’s sentencing Monday. It was Jodie’s efforts to dig back into the case in 2015 that helped rekindle the investigation.
Outside court, Dennis reached out to Gallardo’s public defender to convey the family’s message of forgiveness.
“He’s got a family. He needs to get home,” Gary Sr. said of Gallardo. “He needs to take care of what he has to take care of and get home. Even though we miss somebody a lot, we do have a heart. If it was up to me, I’d let him go home now, because he’s got a house there, he’s got grandkids, a wife.”
“October 4 will be 29 years my son’s been gone,” Stephanie Selby said. “It’s only because of God that we could forgive him. Otherwise we could not move on. And you have to, because it’ll just eat you up.”
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Bill Dentzer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.