ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque man sentenced to prison for killing a father who was teaching his daughter how to drive is now on the run. Authorities now say they’re unsure where Francisco Reyes Merlos is after a judge let him go home before heading to prison.
Reyes Merlos was sentenced in February 2022 after pleading no contest to the April 2019 crash. Judge Britt Baca-Miller let him walk out the door of the February hearing with a promise that he’d turn himself back in to go to prison.
“I think this indicates he’s kind of not understanding how serious this behavior is,” prosecutors argued in February during his sentencing.
Three years ago, Francisco Reyes Merlos crashed a car into Travis Dehart during a street race. The crash killed Dehart and injured Dehart’s then 15-year-old daughter. Police say Reyes Merlos was going 90 mph on Montgomery when he broadsided the father and daughter while she was learning to drive.
Merlos struck a plea deal and was looking at a six-year max at his sentencing in late February. “The state argued for six years at initial sentencing, and the judge went ahead and even four years,” said Greer Rose, Deputy D.A. for Bernalillo County
District Court Judge Britt Baca-Miller also gave Reyes Merlos a month to turn himself in to start serving that sentence. On March 25, the day Reyes Merlos was supposed to turn himself in, he failed to show up. The DA’s office wanted him to go straight to prison.
“We always favor remanding someone when they’re given in a prison sentence, it’s our preference that they go directly to prison at the time of sentencing to avoid situations like this where someone just has the opportunity to not turn themselves in,” said Rose.
At his sentencing in February, Reyes Merlos apologized to the family and swore he was a changed man. All despite getting a speeding ticket for doing 56 mph in a 30 mph on San Mateo right before striking his plea deal.
“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 in February.
There’s now a warrant out for the 22-year-old’s arrest. KRQE News 13 tried calling his cell phone to ask why he hasn’t turned himself in. He did not answer our calls.
Judge Baca Miller did tack on a five-year suspended sentence. The judge could make him serve those five years for failing to turn himself in giving him a nine-year sentence.