Earlier this month, Reyna Patricia Valencia’s conviction in the 2011 death of a 12-year-old boy was upheld by the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Valencia was found guilty of reckless driving, felony death by motor vehicle, and two counts of felonious restraint in September of 2013. She appealed the verdict based on a motion to dismiss the two charges of felonious restraint, claiming that the 12 and 14-year-old boys who got into her vehicle on the fateful day did so willingly, and that she did not coerce them by fraud. Valencia was sentenced to 6 years, two months, and 25 days in prison.
Ultimately, Valencia was allegedly drinking along the way after she had invited the two boys to go along with her as she prepared for a party that evening, telling them their mother had given permission for them to go with her. At some point in the trip, witnesses reported Valencia’s 2003 Dodge Stratus was swerving all over U.S. 220, and that she was driving at a high rate of speed before she lost control of the vehicle. The Stratus then swerved off an embankment before becoming airborne. It landed against an interstate exit sign, flipped over on its roof. 12-year-old Roland Sierra died at the scene after being ejected from the vehicle. Valencia’s BAC was found to be .18.
According to the Court of Appeals, substantial evidence was presented by the state at trial that Valencia did fraudulently induce the brothers to go with her to run errands. The boys were playing basketball at their home at the time. The court found that she lied to the boys, and that there was no question that the boys’ mother did not give permission for them to go with Valencia.
Valencia was 35 years old when the accident took place; it is not revealed in news reports why she wanted to take the two boys with her, however it was reported that she was a friend of the family who was visiting from Phoenix, Arizona.
Regardless of the crime a person allegedly commits, winning an appeal is extremely difficult, and requires the expertise of a skilled Michigan criminal appeals attorney who is highly familiar with the process. Appealing a sentence or conviction is in essence a “second chance” to right what a defendant considers to be a wrong, resulting in unfair sentencing or a guilty verdict. While having an appeal court overturn a conviction is rare, it does happen. A qualified attorney is your best chance of achieving success in an appeal.