ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) –  In a change of plea hearing, a former police officer for the New Mexico Cuba Police Department, Brandon Barber, pleaded guilty Wednesday. He is accused of driving drunk and killing two people on May 1, 2021.

The crash killed 50-year-old Alfredo Escaname-Hernandez and 21-year-old Diego Arellano after the former off-duty police officer reportedly drove the wrong way down I-25 while drunk. He had just been at Sandia Casino.

Barber pleaded guilty to two counts of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, a third count of great bodily harm by vehicle while driving under the influence, and a fourth count to an open container being in his car at the time of the crash.

Barber’s attorney said his client wanted to bring closure to, not only the victim’s family, but to his own family as well.

“He understands the gravity of what happened, the tragedy of what happened to all the families, including his own. He wanted to own what happened. I think what he did today was admirable. Not putting the family through a horrible trial. That is not something he wanted to do, particularly, this time of year,” said Attorney Robert Aragon.

Arragon explained Barber’s original not guilty plea was not that he was in denial of what happened but wanted time to get the case in order.

Story continues below:

Barber’s trial was originally set to begin on Monday. He will now be sentenced in February and could face up to 45 years in prison. Barber was fired by the Cuba Police after the crash.