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A 41-year-old Roseville man has been sent to prison for three years and four months in a 2009 drunken driving case in which his vehicle went into oncoming traffic and killed two men in another vehicle in a head-on collision.

Julian Manuel Martinez gave a tearful apology in court last month to the family of the victims – Manuel Espinoza, 65, and his son, David Espinoza, 27 – before being  sentenced by Placer County Superior Court Judge Colleen Nichols.

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‘I cannot imagine the devastation this has caused you,’ Martinez told the family members. ‘The mistake I made has broken your hearts. My guilt has been overwhelming. It’s a horrible mistake that I wish I could take back.’

Martinez had pleaded no contest on Sept. 13 to two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated without gross negligence. He also pled no contest to a third felony charge –driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury. 

During sentencing Oct. 27, Martinez apologized after members of the Espinoza family had given statements in court telling of the pain and suffering the defendant had caused by his decision to drive while drunk.

Esther Espinoza, the daughter of Manuel Espinoza, said she felt as if ‘someone had ripped my heart out’ after she learned that her father had been killed in a traffic accident and that her brother, David, was in the hospital with injuries that later proved fatal.

Senseless death

‘My family died in a senseless way,’ she told Martinez as she fought back tears. ‘You never should have been driving that night.’

She noted that Martinez was driving with a suspended license when his vehicle drifted into oncoming traffic and collided with the Espinoza vehicle shortly after 1 a.m. Nov. 1, 2009, on Baseline Road west of Fiddyment Road near Roseville.

Manuel Espinoza was killed. His son, David, was in a hospital for three months before succumbing to his injuries. A third occupant, Manuel Espinoza’s wife, Enedina, 62, was injured but survived.

Manuel Espinoza’s other daughter, Lorena, told Martinez in court that her mother has been unable to cope with the death of her husband and her son.

‘You also killed my mother emotionally,’ she said. ‘She will never be the same.’

The two daughters and an advocate for the victims read several other letters from family members and friends who were unable to attend the sentencing.

Prosecutor Jeff Moore of the Placer County District Attorney’s Office kept his statement short.

There is absolutely nothing I can say for the pain that was caused on this (victims’) family,’ he said. ‘It is my hope that the defendant always remembers the devastation to this family.’

Members of the defendant’s family also attended the sentencing and wept as the various statements were made and the letters read.

When all statements were concluded, Nichols told both families that she hoped they would be able to move forward. But she also said, ‘No one will be able to completely heal from this.’

Still unresolved is the amount of restitution that Martinez must pay to the victims’ family. Judge Nichols scheduled a restitution hearing for Dec. 15.                                                         

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