Man, 38, charged in fatal DWI-related crash - Albuquerque Journal

Man, 38, charged in fatal DWI-related crash

Elizardo Cortez (MDC)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Deputies say a man whose license was revoked over a previous DWI fatally struck a man while driving intoxicated and fled the scene on Saturday in Nob Hill.

Elizardo Cortez, 38, was charged with DWI-related vehicular homicide, knowingly leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and driving with a revoked license in the Dec. 18 crash that killed 83-year-old Gerald Groth. Cortez was booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center on Sunday morning.

Court records show Cortez – who has a lengthy record of drug and stolen property arrests – was booked on charges of vehicular homicide in 2004, which were later dismissed. He later pleaded guilty to aggravated DWI and fleeing a law enforcement officer in a 2016 case.

Cortez is currently on probation after pleading guilty to stolen gun and resisting, evading or obstructing an officer charges in a 2018 case.

Alaina Marquez, Cortez’s fiancée, told the Journal he was not drunk or high and he didn’t flee the scene in the Dec. 18 incident. She said he pulled off onto a nearby street after the crash.

“It was an accident and he is very traumatized,” Marquez said. “He’s a better person (now). If this would’ve happened four years ago, he would’ve ran.”

According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court:

Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies responded around 2 p.m. to a hit-and-run crash at Tulane and Coal SE. Groth was pronounced dead at the scene and deputies found an SUV with a shattered windshield and dented hood less than a block away.

Deputies said the driver, Cortez, smelled of marijuana and refused to submit to a sobriety test but deputies executed a warrant to draw his blood. Cortez told deputies he didn’t have a license and shouldn’t be driving, before asking for a lawyer.

Marquez showed up to the scene and told deputies Cortez said he hit someone who was jaywalking while on his way to pick her up. A witness told deputies an older man was crossing Coal “in a hurried shuffle” and the SUV did not brake before hitting him.

Another witness told deputies he saw Cortez turn on Amherst and saw the driver on the phone and a passenger holding a dog. He said he took pictures of the driver, who then yelled at him and began chasing his car on foot.

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