Is this Justice ?
by George A. Manolatos
Carol Thomas Cooper
Published: June 4, 2009 Richmond Times-Dispatch
A man from Guatemala was sentenced to 3½ years in prison today for killing a Chesterfield County woman in a drunken-driving crash that left the victim pinned against the side of a convenience store.
Circuit Judge Michael C. Allen sentenced Alberto Candino Bamaca, 39, to a total of 21 years but suspended 17 ½ years of that term on convictions of involuntary manslaughter, felony hit-and-run driving and driving under the influence of alcohol.
Bamaca had pleaded guilty to the offense Jan. 12.
In meting out punishment, the judge sentenced Bamaca to just under the maximum recommended under state sentencing guidelines, which called for a low of one year and five months to three years and nine months.
"It was a terrible death," Allen said.
But he noted that Bamaca did not intend to kill Carol A. Cooper, 53, and had no prior criminal record or any known problems with drug or alcohol abuse. Yet Allen also took into account that Bamaca fled from the scene after the crash.
According to evidence, Bamaca was driving drunk about 11:40 p.m. Aug. 2 when he pulled into the parking lot of a convenience store at Jefferson Davis Highway and Dundas Road. While apparently attempting to park, Bamaca struck Cooper in the lot, pinning her between Bamaca's minivan and the side of the building, according to prosecutor Dennis Duncan.
Bamaca then jumped out of the vehicle and ran.
A bystander at the scene had to back the vehicle up to free Cooper from the building. She died at the scene.
Police later tracked Bamaca down at his apartment and arrested him. Duncan said Bamaca tried to flee out the rear door when police arrived.
For more details from inside the courtroom, see tomorrow's Richmond Times-Dispatch
Posted by the man who was to marry Carol Cooper George Manolatos