Archive for Friday, March 18, 2011

Lawrence man fails breath test at sentencing for third DUI

March 18, 2011


A Lawrence man convicted of drunken driving in connection with an accident that injured his 12-year-old son showed up to his sentencing Friday and failed a court-administered breath test for alcohol.

District Judge Paula Martin remanded Juan Alonzo Velasco to the Douglas County Jail and delayed his sentencing until April 1.

“I’m not going to sentence somebody who blew a 0.16,” said Martin, noting the amount of alcohol in his system was double the legal limit to drive in Kansas.

Velasco, 40, in February pleaded guilty to his third DUI, which is a felony, and child endangerment for the September accident in southern Lawrence in which his son fell out of the bed of his pickup truck. According to the accident report, Velasco’s estimated blood-alcohol content at the time was 0.218, more than 2.5 times the legal driving limit of .08.

Martin on Friday afternoon stopped the hearing and ordered Velasco to take a breath test after a family member alleged Velasco had not stopped drinking after the Sept. 25 accident in the 1900 block of East 30th Street.

After she had the test results at 4:50 p.m. Friday, Velasco, who had been free on bond, told Martin he last had a drink at 1 p.m.

“What were you thinking?” the judge asked.

“(I was) depressed. I was going to go to jail,” he said. “And like I told (the woman who) gave me the evaluation, I told her I was probably going to drink more the time before I went in (jail.)”

Before he took the test, defense attorney John Frydman said the two sides had agreed to ask Martin to sentence Velasco to serve 120 days in jail with the ability to be released to go to work and pay a $1,500 fine.

The accident occurred when the family was moving in Lawrence, and Velasco’s pickup truck hit a bump in the street. The boy was trying to hold onto a portable basketball goal in the truck bed, but when the truck hit the bump he and the goal fell out into the street.

The boy was eventually taken to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., where he stayed for more than one week. Assistant District Attorney Deborah Moody said medical bills were approaching $30,000.

Frydman said Friday in court that Velasco had been drinking the night before the accident.

“The sad part here is he was doing something, which was supposed to be positive for the children, but of course since he was still intoxicated it turned out horribly,” Frydman said.

The boy and other siblings have been in custody of their maternal grandmother, who is their legal guardian, and Velasco pays child support.

Martin did grant Velasco the ability to be released for work during his current stay in jail.

“I’m doing this so you can provide financial support for your children,” Martin said, “not for you.”


jhawkinsf 7 years, 2 months ago

I'll bet his blood alcohol level is higher than his I.Q. This person needs to go to jail to protect him from himself.

SinoHawk 7 years, 2 months ago

Let me guess: the taxpayers will be picking up the $30k hospital bill?

Daniel Dicks 7 years, 2 months ago

Depends, if they are covered by Medicaid, yes. If not, the hospital eats it and in turn makes the insurance co. eat it who makes premium payers eat it. Either way we pay. If they are "insured" at least it is cheaper. If they manage to stay out of the emrgency room it is cheaper yet.

Tim Quest 7 years, 2 months ago

Wait - should the child not get medical attention? Should the hospital throw him out on the street?

This is the United States of America, not Somalia.

Loretta James 7 years, 2 months ago

i can't believe the comments of some people on here yes we pay for the child he didnt do anything wrong just because his dad is a drunk he can't help it. Some of you dont sound any smarter than the dad

George_Braziller 7 years, 2 months ago

This one should show up in "News of the Weird."

What a moron.

Mary Ellen Hall 7 years, 2 months ago

Dude's being sentenced for his THIRD DUI, a why is it necessary for the judge to delay his sentencing two weeks because the idiot showed up intoxicated for his THIRD DUI sentencing? Sentence him already!! Why waste the court's time and the taxpayers money to wait for him to sober up?!! Stick his arse in jail, let him have the hangover in jail, sober up in jail and suffer his DT's behind bars. Idiots. Yeah, that was plural.

Jeanne Cunningham 7 years, 2 months ago

The article states, "District Judge Paula Martin REMANDED Juan Alonzo Velasco TO THE Douglas County JAIL and delayed his sentencing until April 1." (my emphasis) So, I believe that's what the judge did.

Dirtman24 7 years, 2 months ago

I AGREE!!! Why???

Someone within the system is needing a house or car payment, that is why they wasting tax payers money... 3rd time FFS what would of he got if the boy died 60days, the LAW and SYSTEM don't uphold the LAW until SOMEONE is SERIOUSLY INJURED. << You see it every day>>. Not being rude but think about it. 120days pffff for child endangerment, for crying out loud the BOY fell out of the truck!!! Need I say more.................. Its WRONG but I agree and its JMO!!!!!

jackpot 7 years, 2 months ago

Maybe the Judge wants him to be able to duck when she throws the book at him.

Gary Denning 7 years, 2 months ago

The judge did this to make the guy spend a few weeks in jail for showing up drunk before he ever starts serving his DUI sentence. He won't start serving that sentence until his sentencing date.

Bob Forer 7 years, 2 months ago

The judge did this because it is probably unconstitutional to proceed with sentencing when the defendant is intoxicated. In a similar vein, criminal proceedings are suspended when a defendant is found incompetent.

Jimo 7 years, 2 months ago

Synch - don't encourage them. They either know very well why this would be and don't have the good judgment to suspend their bloodlust, or they're just to stupid to grasp the point.

Just as there as many who can't walk and chew gum at the same time, there's no shortage who can't deliver hard justice and due process at the same time.

Bob Forer 7 years, 2 months ago

Lol. Well taken, Jimo, the amount of due process in these parts seems to be inversely proportional to their bloodlust.

notajayhawk 7 years, 2 months ago

I completely agree with you, actually. But I would like to ask a question, only because I'm curious:

Is there a legal basis for a judge to order a breathalyzer for a defendant in a courtroom, assuming he wasn't observed driving himself to court? Would it be that he was on some kind of pre-sentencing probation, or would the need to establish competence before sentence was handed down, or something else?

Bob Forer 7 years, 2 months ago

The court has wide-ranging powers over the conditions of bond release, especially after there has been a conviction, as there was here.

trinity 7 years, 2 months ago

judges cannot sentence somebody who is "under the influence". they have to have a clear understanding of the proceedings, not be "impaired" by any alcohol or mind/mood altering substance. same goes for the plea, which in a felony case is done a month or better prior to sentencing. true story; a probation officer got an individual to set up for probation on a misdemeanor charge; in going over the paperwork, p.o. thought the person was a little "off"; asked 'em offhandedly when the last time they smoked pot (already declared that as drug of choice) and the defendant said "oh about 2, 3 hours ago"...p.o. marched the fool back to the courtroom luckily judge was still on the bench&let judge know the person was stoned at sentencing. that'un was set over for another time&defendant put in the crossbar hotel.

Nathan Atchison 7 years, 2 months ago

addiction deserves damnation? this man needs help. if he got some real treatment instead of a fine for his first dui things might have turned out differently. im not saying the bottle deserves all the blame but lets try to fix the problem.

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 2 months ago

For real. The court doesn't care if he gets treatment or not,as long as they can keep milking fine money out of him. Rehab might interfere with their money.

jhawkinsf 7 years, 2 months ago

While the man may need real treatment, it rarely works when mandated by someone else, like a court. The absolute real first step has to be the person's desire to stop the addictive behavior and admitting he has a problem. No court can force a person into that realization. Once a court mandated treatment has concluded, assuming the realization was not voluntary, the addict will very likely relapse. And along with the relapse will come the idea that treatment will not help.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

He could have gotten treatment any time he chose to do so.

As mentioned below, treatment only works when the addict voluntarily chooses to get help, which usually doesn't happen until they've hit bottom.

ralphralph 7 years, 2 months ago

Have to agree ... addiction.

You don't show up drunk to your DUI sentencing unless you are out of control.

Does that excuse anything? No. Explains some thing, but doesn't excuse them.

Wendy magillicutty 7 years, 2 months ago

And your vitriol will not remove the disease of alcoholism. You can keep trying though.

somebodynew 7 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps people missed one of the last sentences - the judge allowed him "work release" so he could provide for his family. I get that part of it, but have a problem with allowing anyone who appears drunk for his 3rd DUI to be left out. Does the judge truely believe this guy is not going to drink on the job or at lunch. If he is addicted (sure seems it) he is not going to be able to control it during this period, leading up to his sentence. He already showed that.

crusier 7 years, 2 months ago

He will be given a breath test every time he returns to jail. Fail one, and work release is taken away!

jackpot 7 years, 2 months ago

The Judge can sentence on her own and not have to follow the agreement made.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

If true, this is odd.

Defendants make plea agreements based on sentencing in them, and then the judge can just turn around and increase the sentences?

I certainly hope that the defendants know that when accepting a plea.

trinity 7 years, 2 months ago

they are fully informed of that by the judge and also their attorneys. it's part of the judge's spiel during the plea...and it's not so much that the judge turns around and increases the sentence, rather that the judge chose to not follow the plea agreement...the sentence still have to remain within the sentencing guidelines...but can be bumped to the higher end of 'em accordingly

Loretta James 7 years, 2 months ago

remember your dealing with paula martin who gave 2 child molesters probation a couple years ago

Loretta James 7 years, 2 months ago

and the citizens of lawrence raised hell and she pulled them back in an gave them some jail time

homechanger 7 years, 2 months ago

Great job frydman. Keep this guy on the streets. Hopefully he will not kill someone you love next time he is drunk behind the wheel. 120 days is absurd. Spend that blood money.

Loretta James 7 years, 2 months ago

amen the police pick them up the judges let them out

seriouscat 7 years, 2 months ago

Wishing Velasco the best in recovering and freeing the grip that the bottle clearly has on him. As a person who has a loved one drinking themselves to death, it makes me so sad to see what alcohol does to us and our lives.

Alcoholics Anonymous, rehab, voluntary commitment, involuntary commitment...find a way to get freedom from the bottle!

sr80 7 years, 2 months ago

I thought the people of Salem were screwed up!( we don't need any evidence! he's is guilty!! Burn Baby Burn!!!!

sleepy33 7 years, 2 months ago

Um...isn't the breathalyzer the evidence? Just sayin'.

Kyle Reed 7 years, 2 months ago

It's evidence of him being drunk inside the building that the breathalizer is located in. It's not however evidence of him driving a vehicle drunk.

sleepy33 7 years, 2 months ago

Most individuals who plead guilty/are found guilty/are on diversion from a DUI are ordered by the court to refrain from using any alcohol whatsoever, and must submit to alcohol screening on a regular basis.

Crawfordl 7 years, 2 months ago

I attended the court hearing yesterday and in order for the victim to have a voice. There are more facts of the case then are noted in this article. I believe the judge did the right thing and will continue to do so. Thank you to those few who are truly concerned about my grandson. He is continuing to heal both emotionally and physically.

Loretta James 7 years, 2 months ago

god bless you i know how hard it is on older people to raise grandkids but thank god your there for him prayers to you and your grsndson

tomatogrower 7 years, 2 months ago

Wow, if this isn't a definition for alcoholic, I don't know what is.

UfoPilot 7 years, 2 months ago

HE should not be allowed to get out to go to work. 24 months in jail period. Next case.

yankeevet 7 years, 2 months ago

Drinking and driving does not mix; and that includes trying to ride a horse...............

notajayhawk 7 years, 2 months ago

This reminds me of the comedy routine of Gallagher (the watermelon guy). He does a bit about advertisements for beer, how they tend to go like 'Just finish this? Have a beer. Going here? Have a beer. Doing that? Have a beer. Any time is time for a beer. Oh yeah? Traffic court! "Hold on a minute, your honor, while I pop a cold one."'

That being said, I'd like to address all the experts up above (and doubtless some who will follow this post), sharing their no-doubt limitless insight into the nature of alcoholism, to wit, that mandated treatment doesn't work. Actually, the research shows that mandated clients stay in treatment longer and maintain sobriety longer than voluntary clients.

That research is, of course, slightly tainted by the fact that those mandated clients typically have to go see their probation officer for a while after treatment is completed. However, whether forced upon them or not, it still establishes a period of sobriety, which is critical to the recovery process.

As I just finished posting to another thread, one of the most important factors in bringing about change in a human being is hope: Hope that change is both possible, and will be better than what they have now. It has been my professional experience that some clients - not all, but some, and at least as many as were in treatment without a mandate - will recognize, during that enforced period, that sobriety is not only possible, but that it's better than what they had when they were drinking.

In addition, addiction is quite often a secondary condition, i.e. something that allows them to tolerate some unbearable condition. Without the option of alcohol and drugs to help them escape that condition, they are forced to address it in healthier ways. It's quite possible that when the enforced period of sobriety has expired, the abuse of alcohol will no longer serve any purpose.

I'm not defending Mr. Velasco here. But I sincerely hope, for his sake and the sake of his family, that he gets some help. And a strong partnership between the criminal justice system and the treatment community is often the best way to provide that help.

rubberband 7 years, 2 months ago

Thank you, notajayhawk. I hope this man finds the strength, hope, and support to get the help he needs.

volunteer 7 years, 2 months ago

I don't find the Douglas County judges "liberal." Neither do the Lawrence attorneys, according to some new evaluation/survey tool.

See the recent front-page article on Judge Dowd of Topeka on CJOnline if you want to read about an absurdly liberal least if the defendant was convicted of a sex crime.

On the other hand, attorneys tell me that Johnson County judges/juries reflect the residents' views in being "tough on crime." GRRR. Little chance for the defendant.

Douglas County has the correct balance, in my view.

I saw a rape trial in Judge Paula Martin's courtroom last year. Two 19-yr-olds, and the girl was hanging all over the guy earlier in the day in photos the defense introduced, Was Judge Martin "liberal" for allowing defense counsel to produce evidence indicating the sex was consensual? Was the assistant DA "liberal" in prosecuting this "he said, she said" case?

Jury decided not guilty, but the guy still has the charge, if not the conviction, on his record.

Now, it IS eyebrow-raising, to some folks, that Judge Martin decides to sit at some KU home games next to David Wittig...even if they are terrific seats...

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