Driver in triple fatal headed back to prison

Greg Sowinski

January 13, 2014

LIMA — The man who had numerous chances to turn his life around after killing three illegal immigrants in a drunken crash nearly nine years ago was sent back to prison Monday.

Victor Anaya admitted to violating terms of his early release from prison halfway through a 10-year sentence. Judge Jeffrey Reed sent Anaya back to prison for the violations.

While Anaya’s admission came easy after he confessed to his probation officer, he did his best to try to talk the judge into keeping him out of prison. Anaya said he lived a clean life, had struggles with alcoholism, and hoped that he could get help through a prison alternative program.

Reed told Anaya he just couldn’t take that chance.

“Here we have a situation where you are engaging in behavior that killed people before. I don’t want anyone else killed and you killing yourself, either,” Reed said.

Anaya crashed into a car waiting at a light at the intersection of Elm Street and Woodlawn Avenue on Dec. 7. He tried to drive away but struck two parked cars before disabling his car. The woman, whose car he ran into at the light, was not seriously injured.

Anaya refused to take a blood-alcohol determination test but later admitted to drinking and likely being drunk.

Anaya, 35, was sentenced in 2006 to 10 years in prison for the June 24, 2005, crash that killed three illegal immigrants at the intersection of Lincoln Highway and state Route 115. Reed gave Anaya 10 years prison for that and suspended his driver license for life.

Reed released Anaya from prison in 2011, halfway through his sentence after Anaya maintained a good record in prison and appeared on the verge of turning his life around. But in September, Anaya was back in court trying to explain why he was caught driving at 4 a.m. outside of his driving privileges to and from work only. He said he was trying to get some food and pick up a woman.

The judge told him in September he was risking everything.

On Monday, the judge told Anaya he did this to himself, despite Anaya trying to offer excuses and deflect blame, even to the media for reporting on his criminal activity.

“It all comes down to you put yourself in the situation. You put the whole system in a situation. A person who has caused the death of three individuals was given a chance at a shorter prison stay,” Reed said. “You’ve been to prison. You know what you’re going back to if you’re violating. I don’t understand how the addiction can take over.”

Anaya said he was struggling to understand for himself.

“I don’t know the answer to that, either,” he said.

Anaya said he realizes he needs help. He said that day he was offered a beer, accepted and it went downhill from there.

His attorney, Joe Benavidez, also asked for a program that will offer counseling instead of prison.

“It’s just unfortunate that he has demons that can’t be explained,” Benavidez said.

Reed said the case is about more than just trying to give Anaya chances.

“How can I live with myself if I continue to do judicial release and you drove and killed someone?” the judge asked him.

Anaya received more than five years credit for time he served in prison and in the local jail. He will have just over four years to serve.

Reed also urged Anaya to find a way to get his alcoholism under control but expressed some doubt he would.

“If you find the secret to staying sober let me know someday because there are a lot of people I want to share that secret with,” Reed said.