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Goshen: Jon Hicks gets 15 years for DUI causing the death of a woman and her unborn child

Thursday afternoon saw an emotional court hearing for a lot of people -- friends and family of Sara Martinez and friends and family of Jon Hicks, the man who killed her and her unborn baby, Angel Martinez.
Justin Leighty
Posted on March 5, 2010 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on March 5, 2010 at 3:48 p.m.

GOSHEN -- Thursday afternoon saw an emotional court hearing for a lot of people -- friends and family of Sara Martinez and friends and family of Jon Hicks, the man who killed her and her unborn baby, Angel Martinez.

"I have to go through every day of my life knowing that I took those two lives that day. Those are two people who will never be able to fulfill what God had for their lives because of that," Hicks said at his sentencing.

He pleaded guilty last year to DUI causing Martinez's death and to involuntary manslaughter for the death of her child in a crash at Richmond and McDonald streets in Elkhart.

Elkhart Circuit Judge Terry Shewmaker sentenced Hicks to 15 years in prison and three on probation for the two crimes.

"It's a tragedy. I can't bring someone back. If I could, I would," Shewmaker said.

"I can't give Mr. Hicks life without parole, that's not one of my choices," Shewmaker told Martinez's family.

Two of Martinez's cousins spoke about her. "She was put on this earth to be a mother. She loved her kids to death and she was (taken) away short of that," said Rita Maria Escomillo. Martinez, 22, left behind a husband and a son, now 5.

"Losing her child, I feel that it took, it broke her. It took a piece of her life away and I don't feel that she wanted to go on after that," Escomillo said. "He should pay for two lives. He took two lives, not one. ... These two people can never see the light of day again and I feel that he should never see the light of day again."

As firefighters responded to the crash, Martinez told them and paramedics that she couldn't feel the baby moving, according to Kristine Osterday, deputy prosecutor in the case. They began to rush in an attempt to save the baby, using a winch to pull Hicks' truck away from where it was embedded not only in her vehicle, but in her leg. "Miss Martinez also had to deliver her baby, knowing it had died," Osterday said.

She was then put into a medically induced coma. She never woke up and died a month later, "an agonizing death," the prosecutor said.

"The punishment just simply cannot fit the crime that occurred," Osterday said. "Certainly the state understands this was not an intentional act, so that distinguishes it from murder." Still, she said, Hicks made conscious choices that killed two people.

Because Angel was unborn, the maximum penalty for his death was three years. Shewmaker said, though, that the legislature is considering making it a more serious crime to unlawfully terminate a pregnancy, bringing it to the same severity as DUI causing death.

Hicks had prior DUIs, the most recent being 15 years ago, according to Shewmaker.

Hicks said, "I cannot express my remorse and my sorrow to the Martinez family and friends adequately. I hope someday they will be able to forgive me, because I know that in two years I have not been able to forgive myself."

Two of Hicks' college friends testified on his behalf, saying he made terrible choices and expressing their sorrow for the Martinez family, but they also said Hicks isn't irredeemable.

Jim Stevens, Hicks' attorney, said of the Martinez family, "I'm hoping they find some peace, and I hope the closure of this case will be part of that process of healing that they have to go through."



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