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Published: Friday, 3/29/2013

South Toledo man convicted in fatal crash

Accident split car in half, killed driver’s friend


A South Toledo man who drove a car into a pole at such a high speed that the vehicle split in two and his back-seat passenger was killed pleaded no contest Thursday to aggravated vehicular homicide.

Francisco Cortez, 22, of 754 Prouty Ave. faces two to six years in prison when he is sentenced April 16 on that charge, which stemmed from the Feb. 27, 2012, death of his friend, Paul Gonzalez, 25.

Cortez also admitted to Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Ruth Ann Franks that he asked a friend to mail marijuana to him at the Lucas County jail earlier this month. He pleaded guilty to a felony charge of illegal conveyance of drugs of abuse onto the grounds of a detention facility, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

Ian English, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, said that as part of a plea agreement, prosecutors would recommend a sentence of no more than six years in prison for the aggravated vehicular homicide charge and an 18-month sentence for the drug charge.

Mr. English told the court that Cortez, who had a suspended driver’s license at the time, was driving another person’s car at a speed estimated at 65 mph in the 2900 block of Broadway Street when the car struck a pole in the Harvard Boulevard area and split into two pieces.

The victim’s mother wept as Mr. English told the court that Mr. Gonzalez, who was in the back seat, died from blunt force trauma. A front-seat passenger was injured.

Cortez, who also was injured, underwent a blood test at the hospital that showed his blood-alcohol level at 0.11, Mr. English said.

Judge Franks told Cortez that at the time of sentencing he would be ordered to pay restitution to Mr. Gonzalez’s family for funeral expenses and that his driver’s license could be suspended for life.

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