Man sentenced to 5 years in prison for 2016 DUI crash that killed young mother

Rachel Foster gave birth to daughter weeks before she was killed

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Liane Morejon - Reporter

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - A South Florida man was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter, among other felonies, for the 2016 crash that killed a young mother and critically injured her boyfriend.

As part of his plea deal, Leonardo Morciego will also serve two years of community control and four years of probation.

His wife collapsed outside the courtroom after the hearing and then left the courthouse without speaking to reporters.

"It is not about somebody getting punished -- it's not about us feeling better. Everybody loses in cases like this," the victim's mother said outside the courtroom.  

According to an arrest warrant, Morciego was driving drunk the evening of June 19, 2016, when he crashed his BMW 328i on the Palmetto Expressway near Northwest 57th Avenue.

The warrant stated that Morciego was speeding in the westbound lanes of the highway when he struck two vehicles on the inside shoulder of the Palmetto.

Police said one of the vehicles struck a Nissan Altima and then struck two pedestrians who were pulled over on the inside median.

One of the pedestrians, Rachel Foster, 24, was killed and her boyfriend, Yovhanis Roque, then 24, was seriously injured.

Roque was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital in critical condition.

Foster had just given birth to a baby girl named Savanna weeks before she was killed. 

According to authorities, Roque had run out of gas on the highway and Foster and a neighbor drove up in another car to help him.

Police said Morciego was treated at the scene by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. Authorities said he was slurring his speech and struggling to maintain his balance while leaning against the guardrail of the outside shoulder.

Police said Morciego fell asleep and vomited twice in the fire rescue truck.

Morciego withdrew his consent to a blood test after blood was already taken, so authorities prepared an affidavit for a search warrant to acquire two blood samples, the warrant said.

The warrant was signed by a judge the next day and blood was taken for a second time.

The first test showed that Morciego had a blood alcohol level of .199 percent. The second blood test showed that he had a blood alcohol level of .162 percent.

According to the warrant, there were no skid marks or any evidence that Morciego tried to slow down before the fatal crash.

Foster's mother, Delia Foster, addressed Morciego in court Tuesday, and he cried while listening to her statement.

"Your sentence may seem long, but it is only temporary," she said in Spanish. "The absence of our Rachel Colleen is forever."

Morciego also addressed the victim's family in court.

"I want to apologize to all of the family," he said in Spanish. "I always have them in my prayers."

Roque eventually moved to Texas with Savanna after the fatal crash. 

According to the Miami Herald, Foster's mother later learned that Roque suffered from mental health problems and would sometimes "lash out violently" at her daughter.

Roque was arrested in February after beating Savanna, 2, to death with a hammer, police in Texas said.

He is charged with capital murder in his daughter's slaying and faces the death penalty if convicted.

Roque told a judge in Texas the "government made me do it."

Rachel Foster and her daughter are now buried next to each other at a Miami cemetery.


 

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