Call it the almost perfect crime. Early in the morning of February 17, 2008, a fight broke out at a party in Santa Ana. People scattered into the street, including Felix Abreu, who drove his car into another partygoer, Arthur Carmona, who rolled across his windshield and back into the street as Abreu sped away. Police found Carmona's body in the street and Abreu's abandoned truck nearby.
Although police suspected Abreu had been the driver, he evaded their efforts to question him, and then concocted an alibi by claiming he'd walked to the party and his aunt had picked him up. When the aunt called B.S. on Abreu's story, police arrested him and he's been in jail ever since. Today, Abreu pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter and fleeing the scene, which could have landed him in prison for 11 years and eight months. However, because there was no way to prove Abreu had been drinking when he ran over Carmona, and because he had no prior criminal record, Judge Willlam Froeberg ruled that, assuming a favorable probation report comes back, Abreu will receive a sentence of time served.
Such a sentence--roughly a year behind bars--for someone who allegedly ran over a person, fled the scene, then lied about it, and who still hasn't apologized to the victim's family--is strangely fitting, given that the victim is Arthur Carmona. For those who don't remember, Carmona is the kid who was wrongfully arrested for armed robbery when he was 16 years old, and who served two years in prison before prosecutors finally released him. He became an advocate for other wrongfully convicted individuals, a crusade that his mother, Ronnie Carmona, promises to continue.
Ronnie was in Judge Froeberg's courtroom this morning to urge him not to allow Abreu to avoid prison time. "My question to you Judge Froeberg is, to whom will you grant justice? Felix Anthony Abreu or the victim, Arthur Carmona?" Froeberg responded by stating the obvious: nothing will bring back Arthur Carmona, and it's his responsibility as a judge to remain dispassionate about the crime.
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According to Deputy DA Susan Price, it is now up to the Orange County Probation Department to determine Abreu's future. If they do recommend he receives prison time, Froeberg has stated he will allow Abreu to retract his guilty plea. "It's our position that any time you are involved in a collision where there are injuries and you leave people there to die and suffer, that is conduct that warrants prison," Price said. "We don't believe prison time should be reserved only for people who consume drugs or alcohol. To leave the scene and lie about it and try to cover up your conduct--that's outrageous."