By Sharon Coolidge
Enquirer staff writer
Saying a victim came to America for a better life only to have it ended by a careless driver, a judge told the driver he would never legally get behind the wheel again and he would spend the next three years in prison.
Judge Steve Martin imposed the sentence on Zachery Costa Thursday.
The 18-year-old Green Township man pleaded guilty Sept. 2 to aggravated vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident.
Gloria Valles, 30, of Westwood, who had come from El Salvador, died in the July 19 accident on Glenway Avenue.
"The woman comes to the United States looking for a better life for herself and she probably has had more trouble in her life than you have ever had in yours," Martin said. "She's looking for a chance and you kill her instantly. There is no justification for it."
In addition to the sentence, Martin ordered that Costa's tricked-out Honda be seized and destroyed.
Family members of the victim did not come to court, possibly because they returned to El Salvador, court officials said.
"I had no intention of physical violence on anybody," Costa said.
When Costa hit Valles, he was driving 15 miles over Glenway's posted speed limit of 35 mph and sped through a red light on his way to meet his girlfriend at a restaurant.
Costa's license had been suspended, but he was allowed to drive to and from work. He said he was leaving work and didn't know he wasn't allowed to stop for dinner under the terms of the to-and-from-work-only suspension. Valles was in a crosswalk.
Her boyfriend, Antonio Cruz, had just crossed before her and watched as Costa's car struck her.
Costa drove away from the scene, but was chased by witnesses and held for police.
He told Martin he was young and fled because he panicked.
"I had no intention of leaving the state or anything like that, I just wanted to get away from the actual crime scene," Costa said.
Martin read Costa's prior offenses: three speeding tickets, reckless operation, and juvenile convictions on charges of drug trafficking and robbery.
"I wish that I could have every juvenile here that has a history of bad decisions and bad driving because your decision didn't just pop up," Martin said. "I know you didn't try to kill her, or else they would have charged you with murder."
But, the judge added, "She's still dead."
Minor parties, major ambition
Edwards attacks Bush's record on economy, Iraq
TOP LOCAL HEADLINES
Feds tighten airport screening
Islet cell transplants on hold
Cincinnati cops nearly done with CPR update
Locals lend hand to victims of storms
Senators hear doctors' complaints about costs
Relative takes up fight for justice
Fire union lists ways to save
Group disputes petition validity
Driver who killed woman sentenced to three years
Ex-cop faces trial in wife's '95 death
Once again, teens mourn loss of peer to car wreck
What's recyclable? A lot more items
N.Ky. counts its successes
Gay man cheers arrest in case
Maysville celebrates retaining newspaper
Kentucky news briefs
School music makes comeback
1-day walkout may be voted
Fairfield faces academic cuts if levy fails again
Shell asked to help district
Downs: Don't make P. Diddy beg; vote, you kids
Good Things Happening
Gordon Brisker, musician and master teacher
City embraces jam-packed Fusion
Wanna party? Sports, music, Oktoberfest await
Best places to eat
What's new downtown, on riverfront
Big events fill the weekend
Downtown event map (PDF)
More Big Weekend coverage