There are many tragic stories about the victims of illegal alien criminals, but it doesn’t get much worse than the deaths of Leigh Anna Jimmerson, 16, and her boyfriend, Tad Mattle, 19. The couple died in a fiery crash in April 2009 when their car burst into flames after being struck by illegal alien Felix Ortega, who was drunk at three times the legal limit for Alabama.
The prosecutor put together a deal where Ortega pleaded guilty to two murders in return for a 15 year sentence and eligibility for parole in 12.5 years. It was acceptable to both families who presumably didn’t want to go through a trial where the horrific details of their kids’ deaths would be brought out. Even so, the plea agreement seems weak punishment indeed for the preventable deaths of two young people with their whole lives ahead of them.
Tad Mattle’s mother to Felix Ortega: “I hope every day you will think about them”, Huntsville Times Blog, August 30, 2010
HUNTSVILLE, AL — The mother of one of two Huntsville teens killed when illegal immigrant Felix Ortega slammed into their car in 2009 told him in court today that she hopes he thinks about their deaths every day.
Felix Ortega pleaded guilty this morning to two counts of murder for the traffic deaths of Tad Mattle and Leigh Anna Jimmerson and received a 15-year sentence as part of a plea agreement. Ortega entered the plea before Circuit Judge Dennis O’Dell for the April 17, 2009, crash that killed Grissom High School sophomore Leigh Anna Jimmerson, 16, and her boyfriend, Tad Mattle, 19, a 2008 Grissom graduate.
The accident occurred at the intersection of Whitesburg Drive and Airport Road, after Ortega had fled in his truck from a Huntsville police officer who’d been called after Ortega hit another car in his apartment building parking lot.
Mattle’s Toyota burst into flames after the accident, but police have said the collision caused their deaths before the fire started. Prosecutors said Ortega’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit at the time of the crash.
After he was sentenced, Ortega, who had an interpreter in court helping translate the proceedings from English to Spanish, asked to address the teens’ families. The parents of both teens were in the courtroom and Ortega spoke to them in English.
“I just want to say I never meant for this to happen,” he said. “I am really sorry for the pain I caused your family and my family. I just pray to God that you find it in your heart, so you can forgive me. I wish I could change it. That’s all.”
Tad Mattle’s mother, Terri Mattle, then addressed Ortega, questioning whether he was breathing a sigh of relief when the teens’ parents would never see their children breathe again. She told him that both teens were beautiful and had their whole lives in front of them when he took them away. She questioned whether when he took that first drink that day he realized what would happen.
“I hope everyday you will think about them,” she said. “It’s not fair. We hurt everyday. It doesn’t bring them back and it never will.” [. . .]
[District Attorney Rob] Broussard said he’s not concerned about public criticism of the plea agreement, given that the difference in Alabama law between reckless murder and reckless manslaughter can be a “somewhat fuzzy” standard for juries.
“I don’t worry about that as long as I know I’m doing my duty and the most competent job I can in this county,” Broussard said. “With a guy like Felix Ortega, under these facts, it’s my duty to keep him off the streets for as long as I am able.”
Broussard was asked how the sentence might affect the families and their suffering.
“It is my experience that the families will always suffer the loss, no matter what the sentence, even if the defendant gets the death penalty, which was not an option in this case,” he said. “They will always have a hole in their hearts for that lost loved one. The plea agreement allowed us to avoid having to relive the horrible facts in this case.”
Below is a remembrance video of Tad and Leigh Anna, celebrating their brief lives. Why didn’t their country protect them from foreign criminals?