ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque man pleaded guilty to hitting and killing a pedestrian while high on meth back in 2021. Elizardo Cortez cut his sentence by more than half by pleading guilty to vehicular homicide while driving under the influence.

In December of 2021, Cortez hit Gerald Groth on Coal near Carlisle, killing him. Cortez tested positive for THC and meth at the time of the crash. Cortez had been charged with vehicular homicide once before, nearly two decades ago, but the case was never prosecuted. However, he did plead guilty in another DWI case from 2014.

“Mr. Cortez, your total sentence is 27 years of incarceration… your actual term of incarceration will be 12 years of incarceration at the New Mexico Department of Corrections starting on April 7th of this year,” said Judge Lucy Solimon.

During today’s sentencing, the judge heard from the victim’s son, who described his father, Jerry, as a kind, well-respected man. “The reckless and selfish decision ended up taking the life of my father, Jerry. The pain and sadness of losing him has been unbearable. This is a whole in our family that can not be filled,” said Tom Groth, son of Gerald Groth.

Cortez also has prior convictions for drugs and shoplifting. Cortez will serve five years of probation when he gets out. If he violates his probation, he could go back to prison to finish out the full 27 years.