CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – An illegal immigrant accused of driving the wrong way on a highway while drunk and killing an 18-year-old student has been sentenced to more than 13 years in prison.
Jorge Hernandez Soto pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of second-degree murder and driving while impaired.
At a hearing in Mecklenburg Superior Court, Hernandez Soto, 36, apologized to the family of victim Min Chang.
"It was an accident. I never tried to kill anybody. And I ask for the family's forgiveness," he said through an interpreter.
Chang's car was struck head-on by Hernandez Soto's SUV last November. Authorities said Hernandez Soto was driving at more than 100 mph on the wrong side of the highway when the crash occurred. A blood test showed his alcohol level was three times higher than the state's legal limit.
Prosecutors said the man had a prior drunk driving conviction in Tennessee and arrests on similar charges in Colorado, Kansas and North Carolina, The Charlotte Observer reported in its Friday edition.
Federal border officials said Hernandez Soto entered the U.S. from Mexico 17 times between 1996 and 2000, repeatedly being caught and sent back.
He will be deported after he serves his sentence, said Jeff Jordan, the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in North Carolina.