Jose Teneyuque Sr. was between a rock and a hard place. Charged with murder, along with a number of other felonies, he is still struggling with the fact that his drunk driving resulted in an accident that killed his 19-year-old daughter. Just days before his trial, Teneyuque chose what his attorney refers to as “the lesser of two evils”, and accepted a plea bargain.
As per the plea agreement, the prosecution agreed to drop the second degree murder charge, which could have resulted in a possible life sentence. In return, Teneyuque plead no contest to a single count of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated causing death, a single count of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated with an occupant under the age of 16 (second offense), and also a single count of operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol content of 0.17 or greater (super drunk driving).
As a result of his plea, Teneyuque will be spending a significant amount of time in jail, but not his entire life. And that right there is the reason he chose to forgo trial and accept the plea. According to his attorney, Alan Crawford, the only reason the family was willing to choose the plea over the trial was Judge Janet M. Boes’ decision to not dismiss the murder charge. This way, Teneyuque does not risk spending his entire life in prison.
But according to Saginaw County Prosecutor John McColgan Jr., while it isn’t going to be life, it’s still likely to be a long time. The plea bargain did not include any sentencing agreement, which means that both Crawford and Duggan will have a chance to present to the judge what they feel is an appropriate length of sentence.
Under normal circumstances, a charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated causing death has a sentencing guideline of 15 years maximum. However, the fact that Teneyuque has habitual offender status, and this is his third drunk driving offense, increases the maximum to 30 years. By law, his sentencing minimum may not be less than two thirds of the new maximum, raising his minimum to 20 years.
Duggan has said that he will request that the judge exceed the sentencing guidelines, whereas Crawford claims that he intends to ask the judge to sentence from the lowest part of the guidelines. It remains to be seen what Judge Boes feels is most fitting in this situation.