A judge on Thursday sentenced a Santa Fe woman to three years of probation for leaving the scene of a late-night accident on Cerrillos Road in which she had struck and killed a homeless man with her car.
State District Judge T. Glenn Ellington ordered Barbara Hanna, 48, who at the time of last year’s crash was an employee of an upscale Canyon Road restaurant, to serve 200 hours of community service over the next three years.
In an agreement with prosecutors, Hanna pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of the accident that caused the death of Lawrence Miera around midnight July 27, 2014. Hanna could have been incarcerated for six years, but Ellington suspended her sentence and ordered probation.
The judge also ordered Hanna to complete community service at two shelters for the homeless — the Interfaith Community Shelter and St. Elizabeth Shelter.
“You will cater to people like Mr. Miera, who are down on their luck for whatever reason,” Ellington told Hanna. “Instead of serving five-star meals to wealthy people, you will serve whatever is available to people who have nothing.”
On the night of the accident, Hanna was driving her 2005 Subaru Forester to a McDonald’s to buy some food after finishing a shift at Geronimo, and then she planned to head to her house in the central part of town, her lawyer said. She was on her way to the fast-food restaurant when she struck Miera, 59, who police said was transient, near the intersection of Cerrillos Road and Camino Consuelo.
Police later found Hanna’s Subaru in the parking lot of the nearby Wal-Mart store. Surveillance video from the store, which shows Hanna leaving the vehicle after the collision, was released by police as they sought help from the public in trying to identify the woman. Her attorney said that after leaving her car, Hanna walked about a mile and half to her house, where “she cried all night.”
A few days later, Hanna turned herself in to police and was booked into the Santa Fe County jail. She later told investigators that she had left the scene because she panicked.
“She’s horrified that she left the scene,” her attorney told Ellington before Thursday’s sentencing.
While conducting an investigation of the incident, police said Miera, who was drunk and dressed in dark clothing, was not in a crosswalk as he tried to cross Cerrillos Road.
Miera’s daughter told the judge Thursday that her father had been an alcoholic.
The prosecutor, Juan Valencia, told the judge that on the night of his death, Miera had a blood-alcohol level of 0.24 — three times the legal limit for drivers in New Mexico.
A police report of the accident said a man who had witnessed the hit-and-run waved down a police officer. The witness told the officer that he had been driving southbound on Cerrillos Road but temporarily stopped his car when he saw a man pulling a green bag across the road. The witness said he then watched in his rearview mirror as the southbound Forester hit the man. Another witness told police that the Forester’s driver did not brake after hitting the man. Instead, the witness said, the vehicle drove into the Wal-Mart parking lot.
Three of Miera’s relatives, including daughter Angelica Miera, asked the judge to sentence Hanna to time behind bars.
“As a teen, I committed to giving my best effort to building a strong father-daughter relationship, which I always wanted and always admired,” Angelica Miera told Ellington. “We had to work at it, and we had to get to know each other. Every day was a new experience, an opportunity to grow closer with my dad. And now that has no room to grow because he’s gone.”
Hanna apologized to the family on Thursday, saying she felt “remorseful” for leaving the scene and not attempting to help the victim.
“I realize I had a moral obligation that night to render aid,” she told the judge. “I apologize.”
Contact Uriel Garcia at 986-3062 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ujohnnyg.