A repeat drunk driver has pleaded guilty to first degree murder for the death of an Austin business traveler.
In August of last year, Robert Benn of Tennessee landed at ABIA, got into a car, and five miles later died when then 23-year-old Jaime Bonilla Alvarado struck and killed him.
Benn's wife took that same trip Monday morning to be in court for the trial. She has said Alvarado not only cost her a husband, but a best friend.
Jaime Alvarado appeared in court Monday afternoon and before witnesses were called, issued a guilty plea for the charge of felony murder. It is fairly new and rare. He qualified because he was committing two felonies, DWI and evading arrest when he committed a third, killing Benn.
On August 31 of last year Alvarado was attempting to flee the flashing lights of a patrol car when he ran a red light and struck 64-year-old Robert Benn's rental car. Benn had just landed at Austin-Bergstrom for a business trip and was on his way to his hotel. He died instantly.
It was the same day his youngest grandchild was born. He never got to meet her.
Alvarado's blood alcohol content was a .20. He had three prior DWI convictions. He was in the country illegally at the time of the accident and has been in jail with an immigration detainer ever since.
The punishment phase has begun. The jury heard the testimony of the officer pursuing Alvarado that night. Alvarado faces a sentence of five to 99 years or life in prison. He will be eligible for parole.
Had a first-time drunk driver hit and killed someone, the maximum punishment would be intoxicated manslaughter, which carries a sentence of two to 20 years in prison.
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