Rudy Vasquez stood in a Prince William County courtroom yesterday, his eyes cast downward, and three times whispered the word guilty in Spanish: Culpable. Culpable. Culpable.
Vasquez, 31, pleaded guilty to three charges -- two counts of aggravated involuntary manslaughter and one count of drunken driving -- for his role in a May collision that killed Dale City brothers Juan Valle, 26, and Audelino Valle, 30.
In a nearly empty courtroom, their brother Oscar Valle and their friend, Melvin Villegas, looked on, their facial expressions blank but their eyes pained.
Juan and Audelino Valle were killed about 1:20 a.m. May 1 while driving to the Dale City townhouse they shared with their two brothers. The two victims were sober and wore seat belts, police said.
As the two men traveled on Dale Boulevard, two Chevrolet Impalas barreled toward them on the wrong side of the road. The Chevrolet driven by Vasquez slammed head-on into the Valles' Honda Civic, crushing its front end into the driver's compartment.
Police said Vasquez and the driver of the other Chevrolet, Jose Reyes, 36, had consumed alcohol and were speeding. Reyes was driving closely behind Vasquez, and authorities surmised they might have been racing. Reyes, who avoided the crash, was charged with a DUI and two counts of aggravated involuntary manslaughter.
According to evidence presented yesterday in court, Vasquez had a blood-alcohol level of 0.11 at the time of the crash; the legal limit in Virginia is 0.08. Yesterday's DUI conviction was his third. He was on probation for his second conviction when the crash occurred, he told Circuit Court Judge LeRoy F. Millette Jr.
Vasquez, who sometimes goes by Marvin, is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 18 and faces up to 25 years in prison. Reyes is set to stand trial in December.
In the hours before the crash, the Valle brothers, described as inseparable, had stopped to play pool and eat after finishing evening work shifts at two area restaurants, family members said.
Along with their brothers, Juan and Aurelio Valle came to the United States to make money for their poor family in El Salvador, and they often worked six-day weeks, brother Mario Valle said after the crash.
The brothers were eagerly awaiting a visit from their mother, whose visa and plane ticket Juan Valle had worked hard to obtain, Mario Valle said.
"They were good men," Villegas said after the hearing.
Oscar Valle said yesterday that his brother Mario returned to live in El Salvador, in part because his grief was so great. Their mother, he said, probably will come to the area in December -- for Reyes's trial.