ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – When Albuquerque Priest Graham Golden was killed in a car crash earlier this year, investigators said the young driver who hit him was street racing. That young driver is facing a vehicular homicide charge.


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However, the attorney representing the driver in the crash claims there are problems with the criminal investigation. “I happen to be a member of the Catholic community, and I think this is just a horrible, horrible accident and a tragedy, and that’s what it is,” explained Rudy Chavez, the attorney representing Manuel Soria.

“But to call it murder is to call it something that it’s not,” Chavez added.

Soria, 22, is charged with vehicular homicide by reckless driving and racing, for a crash that happened in May. “I’m so Godd**** tired of this, dude,” Lapel video from an exasperated deputy with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office captured the moment’s authorities arrived on scene to the deadly crash on May 21, 2021.

The crash happened near Coors and Parajito in the South Valley. Rev. Golden’s black Hyundai was torn apart. Reverend Golden, 35, and his passenger had been rushed to the hospital. Golden didn’t survive. “There’s a lot of things missing from the investigation that cause me pause, and create real problems,” Chavez told KRQE News 13. “This is a very dangerous intersection.”

At least three witnesses told deputies the driver of a white F-150 was speeding, apparently racing an SUV. Father Golden’s Hyundai was pulling out onto a stretch of Coors where the speed limit is 55 mph. “The white pickup truck just nailed him dead-on, he T-boned him,” a witness told deputies. “And you said 75-85, that was your estimation?” The deputy asked. “Yeah,” the witness replied.

A crash reconstruction report puts Soria’s speed at 91 mph. However, Chavez insists Soria wasn’t driving that fast that night and wasn’t street racing. “He was following his girlfriend, he never passed her, she never passed him,” Chavez told News 13. “He saw the priest pull out, she swerved and he, unfortunately, didn’t have that opportunity.”

That’s what Soria told deputies the night of the crash. “I was just shortly behind her, and I happened just to catch them,” Soria said on scene. “And I tried swerving and my brakes locked up, and just ended up hitting them.”

Soria doesn’t have a criminal record, just a ticket for running a red light. When he was released from jail, the court told him he could no longer drive pending a trial. It’s something his attorney argued against. “We filed a motion and the judge allows him to drive to and from work,” said Chavez. “He’s gainfully employed, actually works two jobs, and so he’s able to drive to his two jobs. He’s not able to do any other driving, there’s no what we call ‘pleasure driving.'”

Chavez is now pushing to get this case into young adult court, and for Soria to be put in a diversionary program. He says the young man is remorseful. “I just happen to feel that right now in heaven Father Golden has already forgiven him,” Chavez added. “If it’s handled properly, he can be a mentor, he can be a beacon, he can be a sign to people that you can have something tragic happen in your life, but you can overcome it, and I think that’s why justice is screaming out for a different result than ‘let’s go to trial.'”

The next hearing for this case is scheduled for August of next year. Soria faces more than nine years in prison if convicted.