General News

Soccer player guilty of wrongful death

A professional soccer player who caused the deaths of a newly married couple by reckless driving after a night out on the town was sentenced this week to three years and 15 days in prison after being found guilty of wrongful death.

Rising Guadalajara soccer star Joao Meleck, 20, has spent 16 months in prison since the June, 2019 accident, but can walk free if he comes up with three million pesos in damages, the judge ruled.

However, prosecutors and family members of the two victims, María Fernanda Peña and Alejandro Castro, who had wed in a civil ceremony just a day before they died, have contested the ruling. Peña’s mother believes Maleck should spend at least ten years behind bars.

Evidence produced at the trial showed that Maleck was driving at around 115 kilometers a hour in a residential area of Zapopan when he plowed his Ford Mustang into the back of the couple’s Chevrolet Aveo around 9 a.m. on Avenida Tepeyac in Zapopan on June 23, 2019.  The couple died instantly. Maleck and a companion suffered only minor injuries.

In an oversight, Maleck was not tested for alcohol until several hours after the accident, although prosecutors provided plenty of proof that he had been drinking since the previous night.

The judge noted that he reduced the sentence from five years and six months in prison thanks to Maleck’s good behavior while incarcerated and the age of the defendant.