To the frustrated disappointment of Miguel Drullard‘s family, sixteen-year-old Christian Navarrette-Rivas was sentenced today to six years in prison for voluntary manslaughter in the dragging death of 22-year-old Drullard.
Navarrette-Rivas pleaded guilty in January to driving his red Jeep Liberty and intentionally striking Drullard on Oct. 16, 2011. The car drug Drullard as it moved forward and Drullard later died from his injuries.
Attorneys had suggested a sentencing range for four to ten years for the crime. They said Navarrette-Rivas has no criminal record, is 16-years-old, and accepted responsibility for his actions.
Judge Ronna Beck said she chose the six-year sentence in part because of victim impact statements from Drullard’s friends and family and the “disturbing effects of gang violence” linked to the incident.
Beck said Navarrette-Rivas chose to drive to the fight, stop his car, accelerate toward Drullard, and drive away.
“I do not believe that Christian intended to harm Mr. Drullard or anyone else,” Beck said. “I can see on the faces in the courtroom that Mr. Drullard’s family is disappointed. But I have other responsibilities as well. If imposing a harsher sentence would bring him back, I would do it.”
Navarrette-Rivas also read a letter he wrote, apologizing for his actions, describing his involvement in a writing and reading program at the jail and saying he hopes to study medicine, engineering or architecture some day.
“I got caught up in peer pressure so I’m sorry for everyone I let down,” he said quietly. “This is just a chapter in my biography that I hope I can publish when I get out [of jail].”
Defense attorney Chiquisha Robinson also read a brief statement from Navarrette-Rivas’s mother.
“In the name of my son, I ask forgiveness to your family because I too am a mother,” she read, followed by a quote from Psalm 46:1-3.
Prosecutor J.P. Cooney told of an 11-year-old boy who witnessed Drullard’s afternoon death with his three-year-old brother. The older boy walked his brother home after the incident, went back outside and tugged on the shirt of a police officer, saying, “There’s something I need to tell you,” the attorney said.
“The 11-year-old boy did what an adult would do that day,” the attorney said, emphasizing that much of the defense’s case has centered around Navarrette-Rivas’s youth when an 11-year-old boy “did the right thing.”
Just before sentencing, Robinson said Navarrette-Rivas attended church, earned Student of the Month while in jail and actively reached out for support.
“It has been a complete honor to represent him,” she said, slightly choked up, to the baffled whisperings of the Spanish curse word “mierda” by Drullard’s friends and family.
Before the sentencing, Drullard’s aunt read a statement in English and Spanish, saying her nephew was a college student and a jokester who used to leave the bag of her favorite oatmeal raisin cookies open to dry them out and taunt her.
“The only thing we have is our visits to the cemetery to look at his tomb, to bring him flowers, because we will never see him again in this life,” she said.
This story originally listed the sentence as five years; it is six.