MIAMI – (CBS4) – A South Florida family sat in court Wednesday wiping away tears as the man accused of driving drunk and killing their three young children in a horrific crash accepted his guilt.
Gabriel Del Risco took a guilty plea for three DUI manslaughter charges with culpable negligence. It’s a charge that could keep him behind bars for a maximum of 45 years.
Del Risco asked the judge to address the family and said, “I want to say to the family I feel sorry for that. I would rather die myself…Now, I’m involved in the loss of life and I pray for the Serrano family.”
The parents of the three Serrano children – Hector and Mirian – listened in court and later Hector Serrano spoke to CBS4 reacting to Del Risco’s words saying his apology comes too late.
“He killed all my family,” Hector Serrano said. “He has to pay for what he did.”
Mirian chose not to speak, but wore a pin on her lapel with a picture of her three children with the words: “Serrano’s Angels.” Four-year-old Amber, 7-year-old Esmeralda and 10-year-old Hector all died on January 25, 2009 when the Chevy Trailblazer SUV Del Risco was driving slammed into the back of Serrano’s minivan. Serrano had been stopped at a red light on U.S. 1 and Southwest 211st Street.
Hector Serrano was driving his wife to work that morning and no one to watch the children. Del Risco had just left a nearby bar.
Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Rosa Rodriguez is expected to sentence him on April 28th, 2011.
Del Risco nearly backed out of taking the guilty plea asking the judge for 30 days to think about it. Rodriguez said, “I’m not pushing you to take the plea, but why did you call us here?”
Moments later, Del Risco moved forward with his guilty plea.
Delrisco’s toxicology tests revealed his blood-alcohol level at the time of the crash was .239, almost 3 times higher than the legal limit of .08.
Records show it’s not the first time. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Delrisco had a long list of traffic violations, including driving under the influence. After his DUI conviction in 2001, his license was suspended for six months. He also had racked up at least 26 traffic infractions, half were moving violations.
By Wednesday afternoon, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle issued the following statement: “This was a horrifying event that never had to occur. Del Risco had a prior DUI arrest and knew the consequences of his actions. By asking the Judge to sentence him, Mr. Del Risco hopes to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison, a sentence that would be very appropriate in this case. Our hearts go out to Héctor and Miriam Serrano, who are forever imprisoned with the devastating loss of their children.”