ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A man who shot another driver on I-25 during a road rage incident was sentenced to jail time. On Valentine’s Day 2019, Oniesha Herrera was weaving in and out of traffic on I-25 near the Martin Luther King exit with her boyfriend, Steven Lovato, in the passenger seat.

The pair cut the victim off who then flipped off the couple. That’s when Lovato shot the victim, hitting him in both legs.

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Days later, a tip led police to Herrera and Lovato. In February of 2020, Lovato pleaded guilty to aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and conspiracy. The 25-year-old has been in jail ever since.

On Tuesday, Jan. 25, prosecutors say the victim suffered feeling loss in his legs for more than six months, had to learn how to walk again, and lost his job as a result. The victim also suffered from PTSD and other effects.

Prosecutors asked for the full five-year sentence. Lovato’s attorney asked for leniency, pointing out that he pled guilty in the case and there was more to the story including that this happened as the couple raced to the hospital, thinking Herrera was having a miscarriage.

“The girlfriend told my client that she thought he had a gun and my client acted out of fear. It was a very stupid thing to do, they had no business being with a gun in that car. But nevertheless, your honor, this is not a situation of somebody flipping off and out of anger, the gun came out. I think, basically, my client was dealing with the stress of believing his girlfriend was suffering from a miscarriage,” said Lovato’s attorney, Christopher Knight.

During his sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Lovato also apologized to the victim but asked to be released. “I think I deserve a chance to get out there and be a successful member. As I said because I know I can do it. It’s just one little mistake that I messed up and I did what I did and I’m truly, really sorry,” Lovato said.

While Judge Brett Loveless believes Lovato would do well on probation, he said there needed to be more punishment. “This was not something that it happened and it’s just one little isolated act and so therefore all’s good don’t look at that at all,” Judge Loveless said.

The judge sentenced him to three years but with credit for time served and good time, Lovato will likely be out in about six months. “I  want to reiterate how lucky you are that you’re not facing a first-degree murder charge which carries a penalty of live imprisonment,” Judge Loveless said.

Herrera took a plea agreement last year and was sentenced to three years probation.