Hit-And-Run Driver Gets 20 Years in DUI Death

Rafael Espinoza Moreno faces deportation upon completion of his sentence in the death of Esmeralda Ramirez as she walked to church.

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The driver who caused an uproar in this city after running over a university student walking home from church was sentenced yesterday to 19 years and eight months in prison, according to.

Rafael Espinoza Moreno, 27, pleaded no contest yesterday to charges of manslaughter and felony driving under the influence in a Pomona court, according to Lt. David Reynoso, a spokesman for the Baldwin Park Police.

Espinoza Moreno, who was in the United States illegally, will be deported upon completion of his sentence.

On Aug. 14, 2011, Espinoza Moreno was arrested minutes after a hit-and-run in which Esmeralda Ramirez, 24, was struck while walking north on a sidewalk along Baldwin Park Boulevard and Steward Avenue, as she made her way to . 

Espinoza Moreno was speeding his 2005 Jeep Laredo south along Baldwin Park Boulevard when he lost control of the vehicle and struck Ramirez, police spokesman Reynoso said. 

The young student died at the scene of the accident. 

According to police, the vehicle ended up striking a bus stop and smashing into a building at the .

Police arrested Espinoza Moreno minutes later after finding him hiding in bushes and trying to contact family members to help him avoid arrest, said Reynoso.

The convicted felon, whose blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit at the time of the fatal accident, now has a withholding order for deportation from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, upon completion of his sentence.

According to police, Espinoza Moreno had already been deported and returned to the United States illegally.

Espinoza Moreno is being held at the Pitchess Detention Center in the town of Castaic.


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