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Drunken driver guilty of felony murder

A drunken driver who killed a nun in a 2010 car crash was found guilty of felony murder yesterday by a Prince William County circuit judge.

The case may be the first reported instance in which a traffic fatality prompted a murder conviction, reports the Associated Press.

Carlos A. Martinelly-Montano pleaded guilty to a number of underlying charges at the beginning of yesterday’s trial, including involuntary manslaughter.

Prosecutors used Martinelly-Montano’s two prior DUI offenses to press a felony murder charge, which includes killing someone in the commission of a felony. He also pleaded guilty to his third DUI at the outset of the trial. Under the DUI statutes, that offense is a felony.

The case garnered national attention due to the defendant’s immigration status. Federal authorities say Martinelly-Montano was an illegal immigrant; he was waiting for a deportation hearing at the time of the Aug. 10, 2010 crash that killed Sister Denise Mosier and severely injured two other nuns.

The convictions carry a maximum sentence of 70 years in prison. Sentencing was set for Feb. 3. Denise Sanchez, who represented Martinelly-Montano, told the Washington Post that an appeal is likely.

- Paul Fletcher

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