The sentencing of Lorenzo Anchondo has some ABC-7 viewers calling foul on social media.
They believe the legal system failed because Anchondo was sentenced to only 180 days in jail after he was found guilty of intoxication manslaughter.
Anchondo was facing up to 20 years in prison for the death of Xiaoyan Shi, a nurse at Del Sol Medical Center.
Anchondo was drunk when he crashed into a stop sign in West El Paso, the stop sign ended up hitting Shi in the head and she died at the scene.
This was Anchondo’s first offense and during sentencing his attorney tried to convey to the jury that his client made a big mistake that night.
During Anchondo’s statement before he was sentenced, Anchondo was emotional, and had a hard time speaking,.
Anchondo recounted what he has been through since the night of the incident, telling the jury, “it’s something I wake up thinking about. It’s on my back.”
Anchondo asked the jury to punish him as they see best.
The jury sentenced him to a 10-year suspended prison term, which meant that Anchondo wouldn’t serve any jail time and instead would be on probation for 10 years.
That’s when the judge who tried the case, Judge Annabell Perez, intervened adding a condition to Anchondo’s probation that included him spending 180 days behind bars.
The judge’s action doesn’t necessarily overrule the jury’s decision, but it’s an added condition to Anchondo’s probation and it’s completely within a judge’s authority and discretion to do so.
ABC-7 spoke with defense attorney, Curtis Cox, who before working as a defense attorney was a prosecutor for the El Paso District Attorney’s Office.
Cox has no affiliation with the Anchondo case, but has represented clients who have been sentenced to probation by a jury, only to have the judge add jail time as a condition to their probation.
“The judge has exceptional wide latitude in determining the conditions of the probation and one of the conditions a judge can impose is that the defendant has to serve up to 180 days in jail,” Cox said.
Cox says there can be a variety of reasons why a judge adds jail time as a condition, but that it’s ultimately seen as a way to help in the rehabilitation of the individual.
“Sometimes they (judges) feel that what they know of the evidence in the case, that they feel it’s just warranted by the defendant’s behavior in regard to the crime that has been found to have been proved,” Cox said. “It’s pretty much totally at their discretion, so they make the decision that they make for whatever they think is a good reason.”