CHICAGO, (JGL) – Willie Dumel, 28, the driver of a car that car crashed head-on with another car carrying four Filipinos who all died, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and additional 10 years of probation after pleading guilty to four counts of manslaughter before Judge Alberto Milian of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court in and for Miami-Dade County in Miami, Florida.
However, Dumel informed Judge Milian that he was withdrawing his plea agreement because he was “prejudiced” by the plea, which he said among others “constitutes an illegal sentence based on the fact that it exceeds the statutory maximum possible penalty which could be imposed by law.”
Last Jan. 7, Judge Milian denied the defendant’s motion that his sentence was “illegal” but advised Dumel that he has “the right to appeal this order to the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District in Miami within 30 days of the signing and filing of this order.”
Dumel was ordered to include in his appeal the “Defendant’s Motion, the transcript of plea and sentencing and this order.”
In withdrawing his plea, Dumel said he was charged with “two third degree felonies for violation of Aggravated Assault and Aggravated Stalking, which carries a five-year statutory maximum penalty each, and 20 years of these offenses – is quadruple the statutory maximum sentence – which could be imposed by law, not even a violent career criminal is sentenced four times worse than the Statutory Maximum sentence.”
In a hand-written motion, Dumel added the “Court did not advise this Defendant that by entering the present plea agreement, Defendant waived his right to appeal the judgment and sentence.”
Dumel added he was led to “believe that if he violated probation, the maximum possible penalty would be 70 years – which is not true – because if the Court runs all cases and counts consecutive, Defendant faces 70 years.”
Had he known the “full understanding of the nature and consequence of the present plea agreement – making his plea involuntary in violation of a Florida law (Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.172(a)),” Dumel would have insisted on going to trial.
“ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”
After Attorney Brent Jostad of the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office obtained the approval of the families of the Filipino victims, he presented the plea agreement to Dumel on Oct. 26, 2015 in open court and with the approval of Dumel’s defense lawyers Andrew Rier, Jonathan Jordan and Lianet Rodriguez and Dumel’s mother and girlfriend, this prompted Judge Milian to accept the plea instead of going to start a jury trial.
Judge Milian was anxious to start the criminal trial, saying, “Enough is enough. It’s getting three years already in my book, and that’s excessive, and I don’t see any other reason to delay it.”
Killed in the fiery accident of that incident on April 3, 2013 were Dennis Ryan Rinon Ortiz, 33, international sales director of Alveo Land, a subsidiary of Philippine-based Ayala Land Company; Ortiz’s Alveo subordinate associate, Lily Marie Azarcon, 26, both of the Philippines, a single mother of an eight-year old child; Katelyn Rhia Hernandez; Azarcon’s friend, Albertson Anthony Almase, 31, a Petty Officer 2nd Class of the U.S. Navy, residing in Yokosuka, Japan and owning assets in Florida; and Almase’s little sister, Kristina Almase, 26, a former resident of Cebu in the Philippines, who just relocated to Fort Lauderdale, Florida prior to the accident.
Jostad told the court, Dumel is currently charged with four counts of manslaughter, one count of DWLS (driving with suspended license) causing death, and one count of arson, a second degree felony, as well as his probation violation, in which he’s currently on probation for one count of aggravated stalking, one count of assault with deadly weapon, and one count of improper exhibition of a firearm. The last count is a misdemeanor.
Jostad said the State would dismiss the arson count, as well as the DWLS with death count but charges on his probation and one count of manslaughter for each victim remains if Dumel signed the plea agreement.
Meanwhile, the heirs of the four Filipinos who died nearly three years ago have a pending wrongful death civil suits also before the same court but a different judge against Dumel, the Opa-Locka, Florida police officer Sergio Perez, who was chasing Dumel in the fatal multiple crash. Also named in the civil suit are the owner of the wayward car, Chevrolet Suburban full-sized car, Rodney Barlatier; the city, including the city’s chief of police, Jeff Key, and Cheryl Cason; and others in the City of Opa-Locka who acted “at all pertinent times its employees, agents, ostensible agents, apparent agents, including but not limited to defendant Sergio Perez, all of whom acted within the course and scope of such,” the City’s Risk Management Department, the Florida Department of Financial Services, DTG Operations Inc., Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, Inc., Rental Car Finance Corp., Dollar Rent A Car Systems, Inc., Thrifty Car Rental and Thrifty Car Rental Finance Corp.