A drunk driver who plowed his car into a mother and her young son as they walked to a mall playground was convicted Wednesday of manslaughter while driving under the influence and other charges.
Alexandria Circuit Court Judge James C. Clark, who presided over the two-day trial, found Victor Aldana guilty immediately after lawyers finished their arguments. Clark decided the case because Aldana declined his right to a jury trial.
“You made an irresponsible decision to consume way too much alcohol, and that turned into a grossly poor and negligent decision to drive,” Clark told Aldana.
Aldana, 22, faces up to 261 / 2 years for killing Brian Hernandez Chavez, 8, and injuring Brian’s mother, Maria Chavez, 31. His sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 2.
Chavez, who broke both her legs and a hip, spent weeks in a hospital and months in a wheelchair. Brian was her only son. She declined to comment after the verdict.
“The conviction is very gratifying, but it doesn’t bring Brian back,” said Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Molly Sullivan. “We told Brian’s parents we’d do the very best we could for them.”
Aldana’s blood alcohol content was 0.15, almost double the legal limit, four hours after the crash, which happened at 2:30 p.m. Jan 15.
The morning of the incident, Aldana drank two 23-ounce cans of the alcoholic drink Four Loko, then drove his roommate’s 1994 Honda, ultimately veering off Duke Street near Interstate 395 and hitting Chavez and her son. They were walking from their apartment to Landmark Mall to play in an indoor playground on a chilly Sunday afternoon.
Chavez testified Tuesday, describing the incident with a calm, quiet demeanor.
Right before the crash, Aldana went to a CVS and bought a can of Dust Off, an aerosol product that can be used to get high, prosecutors said. They argued that Aldana inhaled the Dust Off, but Clark said he did not find enough evidence to support that claim.
Still, Aldana was convicted of all four counts against him, which included maiming, reckless driving and operating a vehicle without a license.
During the trial, his defense attorneys argued that he made a mistake and lost control of his car, and was helpless in the moments before his car hit Chavez and her son.