Teenage driver charged with vehicular homicide

By David Irvin: Freedom Newspapers

A warrant was issued Monday for the teenage driver in Saturday’s fatal car accident north of Clovis.
Charles Valero, 16, is being charged with vehicular homicide and driving while under the influence of alcohol, officials said.
District Attorney Matthew Chandler said he met with New Mexico State Police officers Monday and signed the arrest warrant. State police officials said they expected the warrant to be served late Monday.
The charges stem from a car accident early Saturday morning that led to the death of Adam Romero, 15, of Clovis, who was a passenger in a car police said was being driven by Valero.
State police believe alcohol and excessive speed contributed to the accident on County Road M in which the vehicle left the road and overturned several times.
Valero was released Sunday evening from Plains Regional Medical Center, Chandler said. He could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Under state statute, the vehicular homicide charge is classified as a delinquent act for a minor, Chandler said, which means Valero will face a maximum jail sentence of two years under state law if found guilty of the charge. However, the court can make the further determination that he could be held till the age of 21 if deemed appropriate, Chandler said.
Lt. Gary Ross with the state police said the car in the accident was processed for evidence Monday.
Police have said the vehicle involved in the crash, a 1998 Mazda Protege, was stolen in Clovis. However, that investigation is being handled by the Clovis Police Department, Chandler said. Investigators with Clovis police could not be reached Monday for comment on the allegations of vehicle theft.
Leo Valero, a sophomore at Clovis High School and cousin of Charles, said the car was not stolen. He said the keys were given to Charles and Adam by a friend.
“It was just a mistake that they made,” he said, adding that he didn’t believe anyone was at fault. “I don’t know anything (about the circumstances of the crash), all I know is my friend (Romero) is gone.”
A funeral service for Romero is being held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.