Police say he drove high down Central Avenue, crashed into a bicyclist outside a carwash, then bolted.
The sickening scene was caught on surveillance video. Now, prosecutors worry that driver is claiming it’s not his fault because he’s mentally ill.
“It’s still fresh in everyone’s mind,” said Edward Gonzalez.
The staff at the Golden Pride on East Central still work with heavy hearts after losing a member of their crew.
“He is very missed around here. It’s just not the same without him,” said Gonzalez.
He’s talking about Joe Fricke, a Navy veteran, who worked as a dishwasher at the restaurant for seven years.
“He was always funny, always made everyone laugh. He was a good worker,” said Gonzalez.
Last July while on his bike, Fricke was struck by a driver who then took off without even checking on the bicyclist. Albuquerque Police released video of the horrific crash shortly after, looking for tips in the case.
“It came out of nowhere because he was just leaving work. He’d finished his shift,” said Gonzalez.
Fricke died nearly two weeks after being hit. His co-workers have kept his locker as it was, with his picture taped to the front.
“You couldn’t ask for a nicer person than Joe,” he said.
Now, attorneys for the accused hit-and-run driver Allen Hackett claim mental illness led to the crash.
“He has some past mental issues from birth so there was kind of a challenge to that,” said Hackett’s brother, Edwin.
Prosecutors are now asking for Hackett’s mental health records, and to exclude testimony and evidence to a mental health diagnosis.
When Hackett was arrested he told officers he had PTSD and ADHD along with depression. He also said he’d been drinking and was on something. Blood tests showed he had meth in his system.
In the state’s motion, prosecutors say they interpret Hackett’s claims of mental illness as a way of denying his impairment had something to do with the crash. Fricke’s friends say that’s hard to hear.
“Joe, poor guy. He was working hard, taking care of his dogs, doing his thing and just going home. He wasn’t doing anything wrong and he was just riding his bike home,” said Gonzalez.
The defense wants the charges dropped. Prosecutors say they haven’t found any evidence that Hackett has ever been diagnosed as mentally ill.
Hackett will be in court on Friday to extend pre-trial interviews. These motions will be heard later this month.