Teen may be charged as an adult

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By Karl Moffatt
Las Vegas Optic

District Attorney Richard Flores is considering whether to try as an adult the teenage driver who allegedly left the scene of an alcohol-related crash near Tecolote early Saturday morning that left two dead and six injured.

If Wayne Lovato, 17, of the 2400 block of Calle Bonita in Las Vegas, is tried as an adult and convicted of abuse of a child resulting in death and great bodily harm charges stemming from the case, he could face “significant” prison time , 4th Judicial District Attorney Richard Flores said.

Lovato was being held at the juvenile detention center in Santa Fe. If tried and convicted as a juvenile Lovato could at most be confined until his 21st birthday, Flores said.

But if tried and convicted as an adult, the same child abuse resulting in death charges would each carry a maximum 18-year prison term.

Additionally, felony failure to render aid convictions could tack on up to three years per conviction, Flores noted.

Additional charges could be coming, depending on the outcome of the investigation, he added.

“A primary focal point of this investigation is who, where and how the alcohol was procured,” Flores said.

Lovato is currently charged by petition in juvenile court with two counts of abuse of a child resulting in death in connection with the accident that killed Kayla Martinez, 14, of Las Vegas and Aleandra Sanchez, 12, of Villanueva.

Lovato is also charged with causing great bodily injury to Briana Sanchez, 13, and Reyes Rubio, 21, both of Las Vegas. Both were hospitalized with serious injuries. No further information about their medical conditions could be obtained.

Three others riding in the 2001 Infiniti Lovato was allegedly driving, Kayla Esquibel, 17, Alexandria De La O, 13, and a Joseph Martinez, 21, all of Las Vegas, were treated for non-life-threatening injuries following the accident, according to state police reports. De La O’s age was initially reported incorrectly by state police.

Lovato reportedly fled the scene of the rollover accident in the median of I-25 near Tecolote early Saturday morning, leaving behind his dead and injured passengers, according to state police spokesman, Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez.

Others who came upon the scene were the ones who called authorities about the accident, Gutierrez said.

Lovato allegedly went to a nearby home where a relative picked him up and took him to Alta Vista Regional Hospital, where he was later found and arrested by police, Gutierrez said.

Lovato has since been charged with seven counts of failure to render aid for not helping or seeking help for his injured passengers, according to court records in the case.

A blood test was taken at the hospital to determine Lovato’s blood alcohol content following the accident but the results were not available by press time, Gutierrez said.

DA Flores has 10 days from his April 8 filing of the juvenile court petition to decide whether to try Lovato as an adult.

Flores declined to speculate as to what his decision would be as the investigation was still “active and ongoing.”

Flores said he had met with some of the victims’ families and would take into consider their concerns in making his final decision.

Lovato’s attorney, David Silva, did not return calls seeking comment on the case.

Ironically Lovato’s 18th birthday is today. He was scheduled to make an initial appearance before judge Abigail Aragon yesterday (Tuesday), and Flores said Monday that he planned to ask that the boy remain in custody while awaiting further proceedings in the case.