Ex-police officer pleads guilty in fatal DWI case
Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
A former Cuban police officer faces up to 45 years in prison after pleading guilty this week to a drunken car crash that killed two people last year.
Brandon Patrick Roybal-Barber, 30, pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular murder when he was drunk in a wrong-way fall on Interstate 25 north of Albuquerque in 2021, court records show.
Roybal-Barber, a former New Mexico National Guard captain, pleaded guilty in 2nd Judicial District Court to grievous bodily harm from a vehicle and an open container charge.
Roybal-Barber could be sentenced to up to 45 years plus 90 days in prison, according to the plea agreement. A verdict hearing was not scheduled until Friday.
He was committed to the Metropolitan Detention Center on Wednesday pending his sentencing.
Roybal-Barber’s attorneys did not immediately respond to phone messages Friday.
Roybal-Barber was an off-duty probation officer with the Cuban Police Department at the time of the May 1, 2021 crash.
The fatal accident, which occurred on I-25 just north of the streetcar exit, killed Diego Arellano, 21, and Alfredo Escaname-Hernandez, 50. Fernando Arellano (21) was also seriously injured.
Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deputies said Roybal-Barber was driving a northbound Ford F-150 pickup truck on the southbound lanes of I-25 around 2 a.m. when it collided head-on with a southbound GMC Yukon that was carrying the three men carried.
The Yukon hit a concrete barrier and rolled onto its side. Diego Arellano and Escaname-Hernandez were both pronounced dead at the scene. Arellano was taken to a hospital with injuries to his head and internal organs.
Roybal-Barber “at first walked around the scene looking confused and disoriented,” one deputy wrote in a Metro Court criminal complaint. He also smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot eyes, the complaint said.
Deputies also found a partially consumed bottle of liquor on the floor of Roybal-Barber’s vehicle.
MPs noted that a blood sample was taken from him, but court documents do not show the results of a blood alcohol test.
In May 2021, a district court judge denied a request from prosecutors to hold Roybal-Barber in prison pending trial.
At the time of the crash, Roybal-Barber had been with the New Mexico National Guard for about 10 years, a Guards spokesman said at the time.
Roybal-Barber was arrested for DWI in 2016 after he was found asleep behind the wheel of a truck in traffic on Unser, near Central, according to court documents.
In that case, Roybal-Barber pleaded guilty to DWI and was sentenced to complete the DWI First Offender Program.