Guatemalan man accused in I-95 crash that killed 3 passengers is ordered held in U.S. for trial

By James McEvoy | Times of Trenton
on October 06, 2014 at 5:00 PM

LAWRENCE – A Guatemalan man accused of death by auto in a crash in Lawrence last year that killed three passengers has been ordered held in the United States for trial regardless of a recent deportation ruling.

Luis Delcid-Cardona, 20, has been held at the Essex County jail by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement since he posted $300,000 bail on the charges from the crash.

In August, an immigration judge ruled that Delcid-Cardona should be deported, but Superior Court Judge Robert Billmeier issued an order on Monday preventing the deportation before the criminal case is resolved in Mercer County. Delcid-Cardona has appealed the deportation order.

Billmeier ordered the detainer after Assistant Prosecutor Skylar Weissman expressed concern that Delcid-Cardona could voluntarily drop his appeal and return to Guatemala. Weissman sought to have his bail increased to $2 million.

“He’s become a flight risk,” Weissman said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen. We want to move this case. This is a serious offense. Three young lives were taken.”

Delcid-Cardona has been offered a plea deal that includes a 10-year jail sentence, and is facing up to 30 years in jail if found guilty at trial, Weissman said.

Delcid-Cardona’s attorney, Robin Lord, said raising her client’s bail would violate his constitution rights, and that he is looking forward to his day in court.

The charges stem from a 1 a.m. crash when Delcid-Cardona’s car slammed into the back of a parked tractor-trailer on I-95 in Lawrence. His friends Samantha Belliveau, 18, and Nicole Rodriguez, 20, both of Hamilton, and his cousin, Jonathan Rivas, 19, of Princeton, were killed in the crash.

Delcid-Cardona fled the scene, and was arrested a short time later at a home in Lawrence.

Prosecutors have said Delcid-Cardona admitted to police that he drank three or four beers prior to getting behind the wheel on Dec. 12.

However, prosecutors and Lord disagree on the teen’s blood alcohol level at the time of the crash.

About two hours after the crash, Delcid-Cardona’s blood alcohol content was 0.055, prosecutors have said, while Lord said a separate test showed his blood alcohol content was 0.038.

Lord said she would move to suppress both tests, noting the first taken was at the hospital without a warrant. Weissman said the blood was taken as hospital staff was performing normal duties.