Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Habitual drunken driver
gets five-year prison term

By Debra Barayuga


A man arrested for drunken driving in January after his license was suspended five years earlier for striking and killing a pedestrian has been sentenced to five years in prison.

But Emmanuel Ibarra, 37, faces double that if the judge finds he is a danger to society and grants the state's motion for an extended term at a hearing early next year.

Circuit Judge Sandra Simms yesterday denied the defense's request that he be given one last chance to prove he won't drink and drive again and ordered him taken immediately into custody.

Simms also denied deputy public defender Patsy Kim's request that he begin serving his term early next year so he can be examined by a psychologist and spend the holidays with his family.

Ibarra, 37, had been free on bail since his arrest in January for habitual driving under the influence, driving while his license was revoked and fleeing the scene of a noninjury accident.

Simms said she will hear the state's arguments for an extended term at a later date after a doctor appointed by the court to examine and rule on Ibarra's dangerousness failed to appear at yesterday's sentencing.

Dr. Daniel Reed's findings are required by law before the court can issue its own finding and grant an extended term. The defense has also retained its own expert.

Kim argued for probation, saying that since his 1994 conviction for killing a pedestrian, Ibarra has remained "clean and sober" until he was arrested in January for drinking and hitting a medial divider on the Likelike Highway.

Ibarra has taken responsibility for his actions by changing his plea and checking into a residential alcohol treatment program on his own, Kim said. He was clinically discharged after successfully completing the six-week course and after-care.

In a barely audible voice, Ibarra apologized for his actions, saying he realizes what he did was wrong. He said if given a chance, he will continue his treatment.

But Deputy Prosecutor Barry Kemp disputed whether Ibarra has benefitted from alcohol counseling or treatment following each of his last DUI convictions.

Ibarra's license to drive was revoked permanently in 1994 after he was convicted of driving under the influence and killing pedestrian Raul Robles with his car in Whitmore two years earlier.

"It's simply inexplicable how Mr. Ibarra can drive at all, let alone while intoxicated," Kemp said.

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