Drunk Driver Who Killed Friend Hears from Victim’s Father at Sentencing

By Tori Gacutan

VENTURA, CA – The father of a man killed by a drunk driver, told the court about the loss of his son, a close friend of the driver, at a sentencing hearing here in Ventura County Superior Court this week.

On July 12, 2021, Arnulfo Rodriguez committed a serious felony, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Deputy District Attorney Kelsey Einhorn argued, “This was a life that was cut short. The defendant chose to have both alcohol and drugs within his system, then get behind the wheel, killing what is a close friend.”

It was found that at the time of the impact, Arnulfo Rodriguez’s vehicle was traveling at 135 miles per hour. After the inspection report, the brakes appeared to be applied at 131 miles per hour.

DDA Kelsey Einhorn added Rodriguez was clearly impaired, lost control of his vehicle and crashed. The DDA requested the accused be sentenced to four years in state prison.

Defense Attorney Paul Tyler explained the accused is extremely sorry and also has to live with the decisions he made for the rest of his life. He added Rodriguez “is able to take responsibility for his actions, which he has and he is ready to go forward and learn from his actions.”

Moreover, Tyler reminded the court that Rodriguez pleaded at a very early stage of this trial and has a minor record.

However, it was found Rodriguez has a history of substance abuse. As part of his sentence, the accused must participate in a counseling or educational program. 

On the stand, the victim’s father addressed the accused, saying, “It has been a year since that fatal day; it has been a year of mourning and the loss of my son’s life. It has been a year since your poor choices have brought us here to this moment. My son won’t be able to grow old and he won’t be able to see his parents as we age.”

Additional impact statements were shared when the victim’s father went on to play a recording of a message that the victim’s sister left. On the anniversary of her brother’s death, she wanted to visit the cemetery and her late brother’s gravesite.

Rodriguez is to pay restitution fines to each of the family members of the victim who was killed, which is to be determined by the court.

Additionally, the defense said Rodriguez is willing to pay $19,970 to the father of the victim, which is mostly for funeral costs.

Rodriguez surrendered his driver’s license to the court and may not drive for three years.

Judge Bruce A. Young concluded the hearing stating that “these are tragic losses for the families—families plural—for Mr. Rodriguez’s conduct on July 21. Nothing I say here is going to fill the gap in your hearts for your losses. Mr. Rodriguez pleaded guilty and took responsibility for his actions.”

Judge Bruce A. Young determined that the case is to be continued for final sentencing.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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