Former Cuba police officer gets 26 years for deadly 2021 crash

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Months after pleading guilty to charges he faced for a deadly May 2021 DWI crash, a former Cuba police officer was sentenced to 26 years behind bars.

Judge Stanley Whitaker gave Brandon Barber a 26-year sentence with five years of probation. In December, Barber pleaded guilty to two counts of DWI homicide and one count each of DWI great bodily harm by vehicle and driving with an open container.

On May 1, 2021, around 2 a.m., Barber was off-duty when police say he drove the wrong way on I-25 and hit an SUV head-on near Tramway.

“I take full responsibility and I bear much guilt,” said Brandon Barber. 

21-year-old Diego Arellano and 50-year-old Alfredo Escaname Hernandez died at the scene. Arellano’s brother, Fernando Arellano, also suffered severe injuries in the crash.

When the incident happened, Arellano was on his way to see his family.

“My son hasn’t been able to fully recover from this,” said Maria Isabel Escaname, mother of victim.

Bernalillo County deputies said they found a half-empty alcohol bottle in Barber’s car at the scene.

Barber’s first DWI was in 2016. A metro court spokesperson said Barber pleaded guilty and successfully completed the First Offender Program.

That program includes one year of supervised probation, having an ignition interlock installed in his vehicle, random drug and alcohol testing, community service and $800 in fines.

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