ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A man who shot a driver in the face during a fit of road rage caught a break in court Thursday. District Court Judge Alisa Hart says she didn’t believe prison would rehabilitate 21-year-old Felix Villanueva and only sentenced him to three years.
In February, police say Villanueva was tailgating another driver near San Mateo and Cutler, then shot him in the face through the windshield after he pulled over. The victim survived.
Thursday, prosecutors asked Judge Hart for the maximum sentence of nine years and read a letter from the victim’s mother, who was concerned about Villanueva’s behavior because of another shooting he was involved in.
“Our absence from the sentencing is not because we do not care. It’s because Brian wants it to be over. It’s because he doesn’t think and hopes Felix Villanueva doesn’t know what he looks like. He doesn’t want the responsibility of judgment. The fear of retaliation is real. Felix Villanueva chose not once, but twice in a very short time to shoot people,” the letter read.
Villanueva’s defense team says he suffers from PTSD from living on the streets as a teen. Judge Hart then sentenced him to three years in prison because she didn’t believe he was criminally-minded.
“What causes me to pause is that your criminal evaluation shows you’re not criminally minded. It’s your perceptions during the nature of your traumatic background, so you seem to perceive danger and then create very dangerous situations from the way that you react,” Judge Hart said.
Judge Hart recommended Villanueva go through a behavioral health program while behind bars to address his anxiety. The two shootings Villanueva was involved in happened just ten days apart. He pleaded guilty in both.