A judge today sentenced Olga Marina Franco Del Cid to 12 1/2 years in prison for the accident that killed four students aboard a bus near Cottonwood in February.
The accident has been a lightning rod from the start, not only for the tragedy, but for the fact that the woman, who still denies being the driver of a vehicle that hit the bus, was in the United State illegally.
Now, the sentence itself is part of the controversy.
"That's IT! This is insane!," one commenter on the West Central Tribune Web site said after the sentence was announced.
"She should get the death penalty for killing those kids. Then we wouldn't have to waste more resources on illegals. Maybe that would send a signal. If you are here illegally and get caught, you hang," said another.
Things aren't any quieter on the Marshall Independent's bulletin board.
Typical online commentary, or does it speak to the emotion of the immigration issue in an area of the state where it is more acute?
Your poll is slanted. How many people get 12 year sentences for car accidents??? Too harsh a sentence. Plus the venue was so prejudiced. I for one am not convinced she was the driver, but am convinced she got a hate-ladened setence.
From the comments:
It would be nice to see her sit in a Mexican prison instead of using our resources here.
How angry would these people be if it was a 24-year-old blond woman coming home to visit her parents from the University of Minnesota?
Look, this was a horrific accident cause by negligence and speed that could have been caused by anyone — and she should serve a just sentence, regardless of whether she had any "right" to be here or not. It's not as if this woman's driving was impaired by her nationality.
Holy smokes, Matt! You mean there's something south of Mexico?
So, what's the difference between "too lenient" and "not harsh enough"? Could we get two more options for "too harsh" and "not lenient enough"?
I have to say that I was involved in a fatal car accident a few years ago here in Minnesota. It was caused by a 19 yr old caucasian farm girl from outstate MN. She was going too fast and not paying attention. When all was said and done, 5 vehicles (including one commercial vehicle) were damaged, 1 adult was dead, and 1 adult (myself) & 1 child were in the ER. The matter was settled out of court and no jail time was served to my knowledge.
I do think that people's view on this matter is definitely skewed by the fact that it involves an illegal immigrant. I grew up in west central MN and unfortunatly know my fair share of people that see all Latinos as "illegal Mexicans" who are threatening our country.
I truly believe that due in large part to the post 9/11 fears that have been encouraged among our citizens, prejudice against immigrants and Muslims is still widely accepted and/or overlooked.
What happened was horrible and there should be consequences. But I have a hard time believing if it were some life long resident who had caused the accident that the level of outrage would be the same.
Two words to add to the discussion: Bill Janklow.
I live in Western MN and I work in the nursery/landscaping trade and I have talked to people who have immigrated here about this issue. I think we need to start from the beginning and remember that if someone is here illegally then they are not U.S citizens and do not have the same legal rights as citizens. Everyone should be treated "justly". Notice I did not say "fairly". The standard for both should be humane and not excessive. Of course nationality has nothing to do with whether or not you will be in an accident. It's obvious that the real issue here is one of immigration and it's unfortunate that someone will do some prison time, but let us not forget that children lost their lives. If people were willing to set aside their opinions(on both sides of the matter), get some facts and lets try to get to the roots of the issue. We should also be looking into how governments treat their own citizens that causes them to want to leave in the first place. Why should we not be doing more to help people be safe and successful where they are? (No, not like in Iraq.) If governments continue to push people out either blatantly or as a result of policy then we as a country should hold them accountable for it. Why should people here illegally not be deported if they abuse the laws of the country they are so desperate to get into? At the same time people are people, no matter where they are from, and they deserve respect and compassion.
From the comments:
She has no guilt. The only reason she ever cried was because she lost her gravy train, THE USA!
This is why it's a good idea to not put comment streams on crime stories. The Strib does this, and it keeps the most inflammatory comments off the site. But these comments would still be happening in bars and living rooms, and I bet the name of Bill Janklow wouldn't come up there.
The problem here is — people imagine that if she had been deported, those kids would be alive. That kind of logic has no basis in reality. You can go back and say, what caused any accident: that six-pack of beer, a ringing cell phone, a distracted driver, etc. and blame that. You can't say, we'll if that person hadn't been born, this would have never happened. Life doesn't work like that.
And people want to be angry about illegal immigration because this economy hurts so bad and it makes people so mad to have press 1 for English. But that doesn't mean the woman should bear the brunt of that anger, too.
Yes, the borders are broken, but that discussion has no place in the judgement of one woman, one bus, and four children who died that day. 150 months for an accident that killed 4 people due to severe negligence should seem fair for anyone in that same trial. If it doesn't, that's where the discussions should be, not on whether she should have been here in the first place.
"Two words to add to the discussion: Bill Janklow."
Janklow's sentence: not harsh enough.
Del Cid's sentence: probably about right.
From the Bill Janklow story, very key I think:
"Terry Johnson rode motorcycles with Randy Scott and was with Scott the day of the accident. Johnson testified he believed Janklow was remorseful."
Also that was South Dakota and the first paragraph of the referenced story I think says it all.
"South Dakota does not require minimum sentences, so Judge Rodney Steele was free to impose anything from no jail time and no fines to a total of more than 11 years behind bars and more than $11,000 in fines. "
What is MN sentence guidline for the charges? Is this, 12.5 years, max or min?
If I read the MN Guidlines correctly http://www.msgc.state.mn.us/msgc5/guidelines.htm she did seem to get the low end of MN guidlines for the offence.
"The problem here is — people imagine that if she had been deported, those kids would be alive. "
Then it would follow that those who wanted her to stay and be imprisoned would belive this somehow brings them back as well.
Both ridiculous statements. I am not convinced of her guilt due to DNA on the air bag and a witness noticing and unindentified man leaving the scene.
Deportation would probably have been worse punishment, but again would've taken years and confinement somewhere else.
I definitely believe there is way too much "fearmongering" regarding our newer residents and a huge assumption that if they speak Spanish they are illegal. I know many with and without appropriate documents (even had a co-worker ask a woman from Puerto Rico for a green card...sigh), but have you ever had a work crew, primarily hispanic...roofing, painting, gardening, whatever? My experience has been they work hard, they work well, they work clean, they greet you with a smile, sing while working and rarely complain, etc. Perhaps those of who who feel threatened by our newer Americans should become competitive with them instead of sitting back an complaining about the jobs are they are "stealing". Most of those jobs are jobs our "good citizens" balk at... and if they get them, they work them while complaining or taking too many breaks, etc., lose the job for having a "poor" attitude, etc. and so the circle repeats itself...
It amazes me that this continues to be a referendum on her immigration status.
Some of the facts are in question, but if she was driving the car, she was driving recklessly (speeding, failure to yield) and without a license. Had she ever driven a car before? I would use that as the basis for sentencing.
Three thousand people a month are arrested for DUI's in Minnesota. I wish people would get a little more upset about that.