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Drunken driver gets the max

SANTA FE — The widow of an Algodones motorcyclist said that she, her late husband and their friends were riding home on a beautiful day when they encountered “the worst humanity has to offer.”

In a Santa Fe courtroom Monday, Debbie Hill turned to face Juan de Dios Cordova, 57, who was dressed in a orange jail jumpsuit and staring down at the table in front of him.

“You took a part of my soul,” Hill told him. “You took my champion.”

Cordova was convicted in December of killing 51-year-old Mark Wolfe and severely injuring his wife, Hill, and other motorcyclists — all members of the Duke City Drifters, an Albuquerque-based motorcycle club that Wolfe led — in a drunken driving crash just outside of Chimayó on May 28, 2011.

Monday, District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer threw the book at Cordova, giving him a sentence that was just two days short of 29 years on charges of vehicular homicide, two counts of great bodily injury by vehicle, two counts of aggravated DWI and a count of knowingly leaving the scene of an accident. The sentence represents the maximum amount of time Cordova could have received in the case, according to prosecutors.

Cordova and his two passengers fled after Cordova hit Wolfe’s motorcycle with his orange pickup truck, according to prosecutors and deputies. They rode in the damaged truck a short distance then got out and ran.


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Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s deputies said they found Cordova drunk at home in the nearby community of Cordova, where the suspect — unprompted by any question from the deputies — said his truck had been stolen. But he had the keys to the truck in his pocket.

Marlowe Sommer also ruled that the crime was a serious violent offense, meaning Cordova will have to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence instead of being eligible for more “good time” sentence reductions. His sentence also was increased on several of the charges due to a previous driving-while-intoxicated conviction.

Cordova did not speak at the sentencing hearing. His attorney Damian Horne said his client still maintains his innocence.

Following the hearing, Chief Deputy District Attorney Dorie Biagianinti-Smith said Cordova’s sentence should be a lesson to people who drive drunk in New Mexico.

“You better be prepared to pay the consequences,” she said. “For Mr. Cordova, that’s probably a life sentence.”
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal