A habitual offender was sentenced Monday in Lancaster County Court for drag racing last year when he caused a three-vehicle crash that killed a teenager and seriously injured the victim’s teenage passenger.
Kristopher Martinez-Roman was driving about 65 miles per hour on East King Street (a 25-mph zone) when he sped through a red light and struck another vehicle – killing 16-year-old Isaia Candelario Batista.
Martinez-Roman fled the scene to Florida, where he was arrested weeks later.
Lancaster County Judge Howard Knisely responded to Martinez-Roman’s claim that “immaturity” was to blame by saying, “He is not 16, he is not 17, he is not 18; he is 24.”
Judge Knisely jailed Martinez-Roman for 6 to 19 years and ordered he pay $182,317 in funeral costs and medical bills.
Martinez-Roman’s license had been suspended since 2014 (due to convictions of DUI and other offenses) and was to be suspended until 2025, according to Assistant District Attorney Trista Boyd.
“It didn’t matter; he didn’t care,” Judge Knisely said. “He did it.
“His further dangerousness, regarding his driving, is extremely high.”
Relatives and friends of Candelario Batista and the teen who survived the crash, along with Martinez-Roman’s supporters, packed the courtroom gallery.
The teen survivor sustained a fractured skull, fractured pelvis, ruptured aorta, and other injuries.
“Much time has passed since this mind-numbing tragedy,” the victim wrote in a letter, part of which Judge Knisely read aloud. “Pain only seems to get worse as the clock ticks.”
ADA Boyd pointed to Martinez-Roman’s criminal history and driving record that includes eight separate convictions for driving on a suspended license – including a prior hit-and-run while on a suspended license.
“He has done this before,” ADA Boyd said.
Martinez-Roman turned and apologized to the victim’s families. He said “this was something that happened because of my ignorance.”
ADA Boyd said Martinez-Roman’s prior actions and record “show his true character.”
Martinez-Roman was tracked down and arrested, ADA Boyd said, because of the tireless and relentless efforts of the Lancaster city police.
Lancaster city police Detective Lt. Philip Berkheiser and other investigators attended the hearing.
Martinez-Roman pleaded guilty to six felonies, including vehicular homicide and hit-and-run (involving death).
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