Man who failed to appear for sentencing in Mothers Day 2005 fatal crash surrendered Thursday.
Jose Melo Fernandez, also known as Jose Manuel Melo, failed to appear for sentencing on Jan. 11 in connection with the vehicular homicide of 19-year-old Maritza de la Cruz on Mothers Day 2005 surrendered to authorities in El Paso on Thursday and is being held for extradition back to Albuquerque, the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
The DA’s Office’s special proceedings division, which handles extraditions in the 2nd Judicial District, received word this morning that Fernandez had surrendered in El Paso and began making arrangements to bring him back, spokesman Patrick Davis said in the release.
Three men were in an Oldsmobile that ran a red light at Coal and Carlisle SE and slammed into the driver’s side of De La Cruz’s vehicle, killing her instantly, according to an Albuquerque Journal report at the time.
All three men got out of the Oldsmobile and ran away, but when police caught up with them, all three were intoxicated and denied being the driver, the Journal reported.
One of the men, Nolberto Gonzales was arrested and jailed for seven months before prosecutors realized they had the wrong man and indicted Fernandez, then known as Melo, after DNA tests were conducted on hair and blood samples from the driver’s seat, the Journal reported in March 2007.
The third man in the car was 35-year-old Luis Estrada-Beaz, the Journal said.
Gonzales had told police that Fernandez (Melo) was driving and that he was asleep in the back seat at the time of the fatal crash, and Estrada-Beaz fingered Fernandez as well, but Fernandez told police that it was Gonzales who was in the driver’s seat, the Journal reported in 2007.