Illegal immigrant sentenced to 25 years in fatal DUI wreck
By SHEILA BURKEStaff Writer
An illegal immigrant convicted in a fatal DUI wreck on Friday described the U.S. as a great country and apologized to the family of the renowned Nashville mandolin maker he killed.
But Julio Villasana's words did little to reduce the pain felt by the widow of Charlie Derrington, who died in an August 2006 head-on collision as he rode home on his motorcycle along Briley Parkway.
After his comments, Villasana was sentenced to 25 years in prison for causing the accident by being drunk and driving the wrong way into oncoming traffic. A federal agent who testified during the hours-long hearing said Villasana, 34, had been deported from the U.S. 14 times before the deadly wreck, only to return each time.
He had four previous DUI arrests.
"I don't know how that can happen," said Derrington's wife, Susan. "I'm very much in favor of closing the borders."
Loss is still painful
Losing her husband of 24 years, she said, has been almost unbearable.
"Just getting out of bed at times has been a daunting task," Susan Derrington said. "I missed two months of work because I could barely function."
Under Tennessee law, Villasana must serve 30 percent, or 7½ years, of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
"I just don't know that there's anything short of a maximum sentence that can protect the citizens from Mr. Villasana's outright disregard and flagrant violations of the laws of the state of Tennessee," Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Mark Fishburn said in imposing the sentence.
Villasana's blood-alcohol level was more than four times the legal limit when he crashed into Derrington's motorcycle on Briley in west Nashville.
Witnesses told police that he laughed as he fled the scene of the crash.
Villasana denied laughing and fleeing, but Davidson County Assistant District Attorney General Kathy Morante reminded him that he had agreed with those statements when he pleaded guilty.
Charlie Derrington, 51, was the production manager of Nashville-based Gibson Musical Instrument's mandolin division.
He reassembled bluegrass legend Bill Monroe's prized 1925 Gibson mandolin after it was smashed by a burglar in the musician's home.