ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A driver speeding down Montgomery who hit and killed a father teaching his teenage daughter how to drive was sentenced on Wednesday but not to the maximum. Under a plea deal, Francisco Reyes Merlos faced six years for the deadly crash, but the judge sentenced him to four despite being charged in a new speeding case last fall.

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Wednesday in court, Travis Dehart’s daughter recalled the night she lost her father. “My father Travis was an innocent, hardworking man who took care of his family,” she said.

Investigators say in October 2019, the then 15-year-old was with her dad learning how to drive. She went to make a left turn into a parking lot on Montgomery near Pennsylvania. They were t-boned, their car pushed into a pole. Her dad was killed instantly.

Prosecutors say 20-year-old Francisco Reyes-Merlos was going nearly 90 miles per hour at the time of the crash. Witnesses say he appeared to be trying to race.

During his sentencing on Wednesday, he apologized to the family. “l want to say I’m sorry for what happened that night. It was not my intention to go out and crash into you guys. I’ve since then matured and I’m no longer that kid from three years ago, speeding up and down Montgomery,” Reyes-Merlos said.

The state asked Judge Britt Baca Miller to sentence Reyes-Merlos to six years, noting that just in October, he was pulled over for speeding alongside another car. Judge Baca-Miller acknowledged his behavior as concerning, but decided to sentence him to less time behind bars than the state requested. “I’m going to sentence you to nine years and I’ll suspend all but four and so you will be in custody for four years in the DOC,” the judge said.

Reyes-Merlos has until Mar. 1 to turn himself in so that he can attend his court hearing for the other speeding case first. Three months before the deadly crash, Reyes-Merlos was also cited for reckless driving. Police say he was going more than 80 miles an hour in a 45 at Coors and Montano.