Is Immigration Status Irrelevant in Hernandez Case?

February 11 2010, 10:00 AM

In the court of public opinion, many politicians and pundits had already tried and convicted Francis M. Hernandez, the man accused of killing three people, including a child, in a terrible crash at an ice cream shop on South Havana Street and East Mississippi Avenue. With the media fanning the flames, Hernandez's citizenship status as undocumented immigrant without a driver's license was a hot topic before his trial began yesterday. But the issue of his immigration status did not come up in the prosecution's opening arguments, which covered vehicular homicide among a list of other serious crimes, according to 9News, an apparent indication that prosecutors don't think Hernandez's country of origin will help lead to his conviction. Hernandez's defense has attempted to blame another driver who was under the influence of a "dangerously high amount" of methamphetamines for the accident, writes The Denver Post. But prosecutors argue that Hernandez's Chevrolet Suburban's airbag system shows the vehicle traveling around 80 mph just seconds before the crash, reports the Aurora Sentinel. Moreover, prosecutors say there is no doubt Hernandez was driving: His DNA was found in blood on the driver's-side airbag, and witnesses say they saw him flee the scene. The case has prompted calls for stricter immigration law in the state after Hernandez avoided deportation despite a dozen prior arrests in Colorado. Authorities say he used aliases and a false date of birth to slip under the radar of immigration officials (via The Associated Press).