(Grand Rapids, Michigan) Last month, Leonel Franco-Avina, a 39-year-old Mexican illegally in the United States, was found guilty by a Kent County jury on charges of second-degree murder and drunken driving causing death.
The conviction stemmed from a November 2009 incident when Franco-Avina was driving while extremely drunk, blood alcohol level measured at 0.425 percent.
While heading south in a northbound lane, Franco-Avina's pickup truck collided with a vehicle driven by 30-year-old elementary school teacher Aaron Haynes. It happened at 7:15 AM and Haynes died on impact.
Yesterday, Leonel Franco-Avina was sentenced to life in prison by Kent County Circuit Court Judge George Buth. Through an interpreter, Franco-Avina expressed remorse.
"I apologize to the family, and I feel bad," Franco-Avina said. "Believe it or not, I lost my family, too. Because of this, I'm here alone, and my family is in Mexico."
Franco-Avina wept as he talked about his ailing mother and the children he will never see again.
Meanwhile, the Haynes family is devastated by the loss of Aaron Haynes, first-grade teacher, husband and father. Sadly
, his 10-month-old son is destined to grow up without ever knowing his daddy.