ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque man accused of street racing and crashing into a school bus full of children will be released from jail while he awaits trial. Mario Perez’s criminal history includes just two prior speeding tickets, one of which was dismissed.
But prosecutors argued Thursday those cases should have been enough to keep him locked up. “In regards to this specific incident your honor, the defendant had a habit of speeding and it did come to a point where he was actively engaging in a race with another vehicle,” prosecutor Ashlee R. Mills said.
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Perez is charged with two counts of great bodily harm by motor vehicle for the February crash on Gibson near 98th Street. Witnesses told police Perez was street racing and going more than 100 miles per hour when he crashed into a bus with 23 students on board.
One child suffered a pelvic fracture and another a femur fracture. Despite a lack of criminal history, prosecutors filed a motion asking a judge to keep him locked up until trial telling News 13 they took into account the level of recklessness, the extent of harm, as well as the number of people put at risk.
On Thursday, Judge Alisa Hart agreed he was a threat to the community but denied the motion, saying there were conditions of release that could keep the community safe.
Hart: Driving is a right, not a privilege, and you’re not to drive while this case is pending any questions about that?
Perez: No ma’am, not at all.
Hart: Are you going to follow that instruction of the court?
Perez: 100% ma’am.
Perez was also injured in the crash. According to his attorney, he spent about a month in the hospital and rehab and is still unable to drive.
Another case with a similar outcome involved Manuel Soria. He’s the 22-year-old charged with vehicular homicide by reckless driving and racing, for a deadly crash that happened in May near Coors and Pajarito. Reverend Graham Golden, 35, was killed and his passenger was injured.
Soria’s criminal record is minimal but prosecutors argued because he was speeding and driving aggressively, he had no regard for the safety of those around him. That motion was also denied and he was released under strict conditions, including not being able to drive.