In a Delaware Superior Court sentencing hearing on Friday at the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington, a judge directed that motorist Rahul Patel be imprisoned for 18 months without possibility of parole for killing cyclist Eloy Sandoval. Patel, 21, was driving under the influence of both alcohol and drugs on July 26, 2014 on his way […]

Rahul Patel

In a Delaware Superior Court sentencing hearing on Friday at the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington, a judge directed that motorist Rahul Patel be imprisoned for 18 months without possibility of parole for killing cyclist Eloy Sandoval.

Patel, 21, was driving under the influence of both alcohol and drugs on July 26, 2014 on his way to visit friends. At about 8:30PM he was driving west towards Newark at high speed on Route 273 and was approaching Ruthar Drive when he lost control of his vehicle. His car left the roadway, traveled onto the center median, rotated counter-clockwise and continued into the intersection, where the passenger side of Patel's car hit cyclist Eloy Sandoval, 44, of Newark.

Sandoval had been waiting in the median for an opportunity to cross Route 273. He sustained multiple traumatic injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Patel was charged with, and pled guilty to, vehicular homicide in the first degree, which is categorized as a “Class C Felony (Violent)”. The crime of first degree vehicular homicide occurs when someone drives a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs and their criminally negligent driving causes the death of another person.

Delaware Criminal Code Title 11 630A Vehicular homicide in the first degree

(a)A person is guilty of vehicular homicide in the first degree when while in the course of driving or operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs or with a prohibited alcohol or drug content, as defined by 4177 of Title 21, the person's criminally negligent driving or operation of said vehicle causes the death of another person.

Vehicular homicide in the first degree is a class C felony.

(b)The minimum sentence required by this section shall be 2 years, notwithstanding 4205(b)(5) of this title. The minimum sentence shall not be subject to suspension, and no person convicted under this section shall be eligible for probation, parole, furlough, work release or supervised custody during the first 18 months of such sentence.

At his sentencing hearing on Friday, Patel expressed remorse for killing Sandoval.

Sentencing guidelines in Delaware explicitly embrace a philosophy that

“offenders should be sentenced to the least restrictive and most cost-effective sanction possible given the severity of the offense, the criminal history of the offender and the focus, which is, above all, to protect the public's safety.”

In Patel's sentencing on Friday, the judge said that she concluded that Patel had had no intention of killing Sandoval and did not represent a significant threat to the public as a repeat offender after release. In the absence of any additional aggravating factors and consistent with the sentencing philosophy as articulated by Delaware's sentencing guidelines, she directed that Patel serve the minimum amount (18 months) allowed by statute. With the time he has already served, Patel will remain in prison for another 16 months. The judge also directed that Patel pay a fine of $5,500, which includes $5,000 to the Delaware Victims' Compensation Assistance Program and $500 to Sandoval's family.

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Delaware State Code Title 11, Chapter 5, Subchapter II (Delaware Criminal Code)

Delaware Sentencing Accountability Commission 2014 Benchbook