Guam – Family members sat in court today as well as various GovGuam agencies as Marco Nelson was sentenced to 8 years in prison for vehicular homicide while intoxicated. Nelson’s four-year-old daughter, Daidenara, was killed during a high speed chase with police in October of 2012.
Nelson broke down in tears today as the public service announcements he participated in were played back in court.
The PSA’s are part of a unique plea deal with the AG’s office in exchange for lesser charges of vehicular homicide while intoxicated. This meant that Nelson would only face 5 to 15 years in prison for killing his 4 yr-old-daughter who was in the backseat of the car during a high speed chase with police.
It happened in October 2012. Nelson was pulled over near the Barrigada Shell station for a routine traffic stop when he suddenly fled the scene. Police gave chase but, driving while drunk, Nelson’s car collided with a pole near the Barrigada tri-intersection.
Officer Paul Tapao was one of the responding officers at the time. He says he was not aware that there was a passenger in the back seat of the vehicle. It was only when medics opened up the front passenger door that they noticed locks of hair in the backseat.
“We saw it. We saw the hair, the lifeless body and a set locks of hair,” Tapao recalled, noting that the little girl was found tucked underneath the reclined front passenger seat.
Since the plea deal was agreed to, Officer Tapao says he helped in the creation of the PSA at which point Tapao says he spent some time with Nelson.
“He’s very cooperative. He understands the situation, the importance. From father to father, man to man, he understood the importance of what we were doing. He was very, very remorseful,” Tapao explained.
Assistant Attorney General Basil O’Mallan admits the plea deal was a little unusual, especially given the circumstances of the case. Nelson was driving drunk, attempted to evade police knowing full well that his four year old daughter was in the back seat and not restrained in a car seat; and as a result killed her in the process. But O’Mallan says the opportunity was there to send a powerful message to the community.
“If we can use Mr. Nelson to reach into Chuukese and FSM community to reduce number of fatalities. If we save one life it’s a plus,” noted O’Mallan.
Nelson also gave a statement during his sentencing. “I am very remorseful for what I have done … This tragedy has transformed me. I’m not the same person who was in the car that night,” he said, tearfully.
“Please grant me leniency in my case. I made a mistake. I learned from my mistake,” he told Judge Canto. “Your honor, please have mercy on me.”
The PSA’s are set to air during primetime on various channels.