CBS4 Investigates: Driver In Bus Bench Crash Has Lengthy Criminal Record
MIAMI (CBS4) – The driver of a car that plowed into a bus bench in Miami Gardens Wednesday, killing one woman and leaving two others near death, apparently benefited from a revolving door criminal justice system that records indicate dealt lightly with a laundry list of serious criminal offenses.
The white Nissan that slammed into the bus bench at break neck speed, witnesses say, killed 83 year-old Mary Smith. Delia Tafur, 47, remains in critical condition after having two legs amputated, and 44 year-old Wendy Vasquez is in grave condition with a devastating head injury.
CBS4 News has learned the man driving the car, 29 year-old Mark Derefaka, has a rap sheet that includes a litany of all manner of lawlessness:
- In May, 2003, he was charged with beating up a cop, resisting arrest with violence and grand theft. A conviction would follow.
- Scarcely six months later he would be free to commit a robbery. He was convicted for that as well.
- In August, 2005, he was charged and later convicted in a counterfeiting scheme of some sort.
- Later in 2005, he was arrested on felony cocaine and pot charges. More convictions.
- In January, 2006, was charged with attempting to murder someone with a firearm, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
In the space of just 2 1/2 years, Derefaka committed 10 felony offenses for which public records indicate he was convicted, three of them violent crimes committed in three, separate cases.
Wednesday he was out loose to careen into a bus stop wreaking death and mayhem.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s office issued a statement saying a lack of cooperation from victims and witnesses hindered the prosecutions of Derefaka. That explanation would seem to conflict, however, with Derefaka being found guilty of the multiple felonies.
He was eventually sentenced to five years in state prison, but served less than three years of that before being released in January, 2011.
The son of one of critically injured women told CBS4 News Friday that the justice system failed.
Wendy Vasquez’s son, Tavish, said, “To be blunt, it worries me that my family, any family, can be put through something like this because a person like that was out free.”
As of late Friday no charges had been filed in connection with the bus stop tragedy, and Mark Derefaka remained free.