ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A judge decided not to send a young man to prison for killing another while fleeing in a stolen Jeep.
Matthew Nieto was one of three young men charged in the death of an innocent driver at Eubank and Menaul in 2017. They had just carjacked someone and were fleeing from police.
On Wednesday, he got probation.
“I’ve had a very long time to think about my actions, and I would like to say to the victim’s family, I am truly sorry for my actions,” Nieto said.
Matthew Nieto was one of the young men involved in a carjacking back in 2017 that led to the death of D’Markus Blea. Blea and his girlfriend were driving near Eubank and Menaul when their car was struck by the stolen Jeep, whose driver was fleeing from police.
“Once I was released from MDC, I set my mind to be a successful member of our community,” Nieto said.
Wednesday, Nieto apologized and asked the judge for a lighter sentence.
“I’d like to ask the court for the ability to be sentenced to probation instead of the Department of Corrections,” he said.
According to Nieto’s attorney, Nieto has complied with all pretrial services.
“He’s been one of the best clients I’ve ever had, in terms of a person who has really been committed to doing the right things,” attorney John McCall said.
Prosecutors say of the teens involved, Nieto played the most minor role —and since the incident, he has done everything asked of him.
“The defendant was readily cooperative with us. He presented us with what we believe to be the entire truth,” prosecutor Joshua Jimenez said.
In the end, Judge Cindy Leos said she didn’t believe anything beneficial would come out of incarceration, sentencing Nieto to four and a half years supervised probation.
“I can tell that this is impacting you, and I’m glad to see it’s impacting you because you know how serious this is. It’s up to you if you comply with probation. You can put this behind you and be a good role model for your child,” Judge Leos said.
If Nieto successfully completes his probation, his charges will be dismissed. The driver of the Jeep, Domonic Rougemont, pleaded guilty in May to vehicular homicide and other charges and faces 21 years. He’ll be sentenced later this month.
Another one of the teens, Quontez Kuvinka, was given a break but has been in trouble since. Prosecutors are working to get him locked up, but his sentencing has been delayed several times.