There are few people as cowardly as a driver who hits an innocent pedestrian and then flees the scene. Unfortunately, these people don’t always get caught. But after killing 23-year-old Rachel Spelman back in March 2017, 31-year-old John Esparza was caught and brought to court to face justice. He was speeding on that day in Dallas and has since pleaded guilty to felony counts of manslaughter and failure to render aid.
But during his sentencing, Esparza surprised everyone when he blamed the victim instead of taking responsibility. His lack of empathy and compassion for the deceased and her family helped the judge seal his fate and sentence him to twenty years in prison.
While in front of the victim’s surviving relatives, he admitted that he had some fault in the accident, but so did young Spelman.
Esparza’s attorney addressed the fact that Spelman crossed in the middle of the street without using a crosswalk. She had been extremely intoxicated at the time. Nevertheless, Esparza should not have left her to die in the street nor called her “careless” at his sentencing.
Spelman had walked in front of Esparza’s speeding vehicle at night and had not given him much time to respond. This made him feel as if he was not entirely responsible for the death of Rachel Spelman, especially because she was severely intoxicated when she stepped into the street without looking.
After he apologized to Spelman’s two dozen relatives and friends in court, he added, “I’m sorry she had to be so careless.”
As Spelman’s family took the stand to paint a picture of the bright young woman Esparza had killed, the hit-and-run driver continued to blame the victim again and again.
“We are both at fault. I promise you if she would’ve used that crosswalk.”
When Spelman was killed in Dallas, her family took the news incredibly hard.
“She did everything right her whole life,” Tom Spelman said of his daughter. “You let your daughter go. You release her to the world. And then you get the call.”
The call came at 5 a.m. on March 18. Tom’s wife Cheryl put the phone on speaker. Tom heard the words, “She did not make it.”
After Esparza repeatedly blamed the victim for her death, prosecutor Sherre Thomas stood before him and held up a picture of the dead woman in the street.
“I want you to see what you did. That’s who you left in the street,” Thomas said.
Esparza tried to explain that he knew what he did and “didn’t even clean up the glass in the car” to hide his crime. “The blood was still on it.”
Nevertheless, Esparza fled the state and drove straight for Oklahoma to evade the cops. He replaced the windshield and then abandoned his vehicle at a motel. Although he had been heavily drinking with family just hours before he killed Spelman, he vowed he had been sober because he had the long drive to Oklahoma to make.
Prosecutor Thomas called for a harsh punishment for the hit-and-run driver. He was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
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