Man pleads guilty in 2021 car crash that killed priest

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The man who crashed into a beloved priest on Coors back in 2021, went before a judge for the first time in almost two years to claim some responsibility for his crime.

Manuel Soria took a plea deal Wednesday afternoon. He pled guilty to racing on a highway and not homicide by vehicle.

Soria was racing at a high speed right before the crash in May 2021 that killed Father Graham Golden.

A few months after the deadly crash, Soria’s attorney asked a judge to change his release conditions which at the time, did not allow Soria to drive under any circumstances.

Since Soria wanted to work as a delivery driver, a judge granted the request, saying he would only be allowed to drive during work hours.

It seems he kept his end of the deal, and he entered into another.

With the guilty plea to racing on a highway, a judge sentenced Soria to 90 days of probation and 80 days of community service.

A close friend of the priest shared an emotional statement on behalf of his parents and herself, making a plea of their own.

“If Graham were here today, and preparing his own impact statement, I can say with confidence that he would argue passionately and at length for mercy, and against any jail time. I think anything other than mercy with dishonor his memory.”

“What’s before me is a charge of racing. There’s a more technical term for that, but basically racing, not vehicular homicide. That might be Father Graham’s way of ensuring some mercy in this case, and not exposing someone to years and years in prison,” said Bernalillo County District Court Judge Emeterio L. Rudolfo. 

Everyone, including Soria’s attorney, the state, and Golden’s family agreed with the judge’s decision Wednesday.

In addition to the probation and community service, Soria will need to enroll in a defensive driving class. 

The judge said there will be zero tolerance if he is ever caught speeding again.