Man accused of killing 2 young girls while driving drunk in 2016 - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Man accused of killing 2 young girls while driving drunk in 2016 pleads guilty

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Juan Carlos Ortega-Santos during a recent court appearance. Juan Carlos Ortega-Santos during a recent court appearance.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- One day after rejecting a plea deal, an undocumented immigrant accused of killing two young girls while driving drunk in 2016 has pleaded guilty to several charges. 

As jury selection was about to begin on Thursday, 26-year-old Juan Carlos Ortega-Santos pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter, two counts of wanton endangerment and drunk driving. He was sentenced to 25 years. 

It was the same plea deal he had rejected a day earlier. 

"I asked my client to pray about it," said defense attorney Grover Cox. "And after he reflected on it, he decided it would be best not to go forward. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of this terrible tragedy. And I believe he made a wise decision."

Police said Ortega-Santos was driving under the influence when he hit and killed 16-year-old Tyeisha Lacy and 10-year-old Alena Clay in June of 2016 as the girls were walking in the bike lane on Taylorsville Road

Police said he was driving without a license, and his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit more than three hours after the crash. 

"He will never know the extend of the damage he did," said Lakeenya Lacy, Tyeisha's mother. "You did not just take their lives. You took other people's lives with them."

The plea deal happened so fast, the victims' families weren't in court to see it. 

"They're still living with so much grief that I'm sure, to some extent, they're relieved that this is over, and they don't have to go to trial,"prosecutor Kristi Gray said. "But it doesn't really bring them any peace. They still lost their children."

Federal authorities said Ortega-Santos is in the U.S. illegally and used fake documents to get a job. It's unclear if he will serve his sentence in the U.S. before he is deported, because there is still a federal case against him.

Prosecutors said they hope he serves his sentence before being deported, because if he is sent back to Mexico, there is no guarantee he'll be put in prison there. 

"No magnitude of time would be sufficient enough for the life of my daughter," Lacy said. "I don't care if they give you 100 years. You stole something that was more valuable to me than those 25 years."

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