LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An illegal immigrant who had been on the run for six years after killing three people while driving drunk in an Angelina County wreck has pleaded guilty and accepted an 18-year prison sentence.
Vincente Gonzalez, 39, pleaded guilty to three counts of intoxicated manslaughter and one count of intoxicated assault in Judge Paul White's courtroom Tuesday afternoon.
Gonzalez tried to enter a plea in August, but White would not allow it until family members were available to give victim impact statements on Tuesday.
The sentence actually includes three 18-year terms and one 10-year term, which will run concurrent.
Gonzalez disappeared from a Houston hospital on June 8, 2009, after killing Willie Lacy, 48, of Alto, Crystal Thomas, 29, of Lufkin, and Christopher Gross, 4, after he drove drunk and ran head-on into them.
Willie Lacy's family was in court Tuesday and told us he was a loving person.
"He was a giver. He loved to make people laugh. He was sort of our family class clown. He didn't mind driving, having fun showing us a good time," said Donyelle Leachman, Willie Lacy's niece.
The family now grateful for having closure.
"It did finally come to an end. We waited a long time for this to eventually culminate. So at this point the family at this point feels as if there is closure," said Dan Lacy, Willie's eldest brother.
The Angelina County District Attorney Joe Martin acknowledged the hard work behind this case thanking the numerous agencies that helped bring this case to justice.
According to a previous report, DPS had not placed Gonzalez under arrest at the time he was in a Houston hospital recovering from injuries sustained in the wreck. Then-DPS spokesman Greg Sanches said Gonzalez was in the hospital with a broken leg and brain bleed and was not considered a flight risk.
Sanches said when Gonzalez escaped from the hospital that he cut his hair and put on some kind of disguise.
Gonzalez was arrested in January following a Crime Stoppers tip. He was arrested in Deer Park while he was working with a landscaping crew.