SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) - The repeat drunken driver who pleaded guilty to killing two teens while driving under the influence in Santa Fe will spend at least 20 years in prison.
There was not a dry eye in the courtroom as family members of Del Lynn and Deshauna Peshlakai addressed the girls' killer, James Ruiz.
"After you get out the only apology we can get from you is for you to change your life and leave the alcohol alone," said the girls' older sister.
In March 2010 Ruiz was driving drunk on Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe when he slammed his pickup truck into the back of the Peshlakai's car at a red light.
The family was in town for a girl's basketball tournament. The teenage sisters riding in the backseat were killed instantly and their parents in the front seriously hurt.
"My life's destroyed. There's no way I can go back to how I was and what I was doing. It's gone," said David Peshlakai, the girls' father.
At the time of the crash, Ruiz already had three DWI convictions and was awaiting trial for another DWI arrest more than a year and a half earlier.
"Right now it just seems like everything's a slap on the wrist," David Peshlakai said.
It's a statement Ruiz agrees with.
Before being sentenced to 40 years in prison Ruiz addressed the court and called out the Santa Fe County District Attorney's Office.
"In the year prior to leading up to this tragedy the Santa Fe District Attorney's Office had it within their power to possibly change the outcome of that night," said Ruiz.
Ruiz said if the DA's office had not taken so long to try him for his fourth DWI the Peshlakai sisters might still be alive.
"Like me they will forever have to live with the knowledge that they could have done something to change the outcome of that night on their conscience," said Ruiz.
The district attorney's office said it was Ruiz who delayed the case by asking to travel out of state to get treatment, a request granted by a judge.
For now the Peshlakai family is taking comfort in the fact that Ruiz can't hurt anyone else.
"At least we know where he is going to be for the next 20 years," David Peshlakai said.
Even though Ruiz was sentenced to 40 years he could be out in 20 with good behavior.
Ruiz did not do any real jail time for his first three DWIs.
The Peshlakai family has also sued the bar where Ruiz was drinking that night. That case is still pending.
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