A Whitewater man pleaded guilty and was sentenced Friday for driving drunk and killing a 56-year-old man, apologizing to the family and hearing the fianceÃ© and daughter of the decedent speak about the life that was taken from them.
Austin George Jackson, 35, pleaded guilty Friday afternoon at the Larson Justice Center in Indio to one felony count each of murder and driving under the influence causing great bodily injury. He was immediately sentenced to 16 years, 4 months to life in prison.
Gabriel Casiano Martinez of Gardena died July 3, 2022 after Jackson rear-ended his vehicle at a high rate of speed.
“I want to apologize to the Martinez family and Ms. Acevedo. I know I don’t deserve your forgiveness. … I will regret that night forever and I hope that everyone that was part of Mr. Martinez’s family and life can find some solace and comfort,” Jackson said.
Martinez’s fianceÃ©, Maria Acevedo, gave a statement in tears, talking about what it was like losing the love of her life as he was sitting next to her, realizing that the plans they had to move to Las Vegas and get married would never be fulfilled.
“We had everything planned. That car accident changed my life and not in a good way. … That night is engraved in my mind and will never fade away. … I ran back to the driver’s side and got in to see Gabriel and I remember he never looked so peaceful. His eyes were closed.” Acevedo said. “I didn’t want to believe he was dead and at the time I didn’t know he was. … I was distraught. I was confused. I was in shock. How could the love of my life be dead? We were just talking about our plans for the next day.”
Martinez’s daughter, Casiana Martinez, spoke about all the events that her dad missed out on after the crash, saying that it is just a small beginning of the major things that have been missed since he was killed last year.
“I thought I would have more time with my dad. That my babies would get to grow up with the best grandfather that they had. I thought I would get to experience more life with the person I could easily say was my person,” Casiana Martinez said. “My dad was taken from us at the young age of 56 years old. And yet the chances are, the man that did this to my dad will be out of prison before he reaches that age as if his actions didn’t create all of this pain, loss and heartache. … We’ll continue to fight for my father.”
The crash occurred around 1:30 a.m. July 3, 2022 on Highway 111 north of Gateway Drive in Palm Springs, according to authorities. Acevedo was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.
Jackson was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital following the crash, according to authorities. He also had a previous out-of-state arrest related to DUI, according to the Palm Springs Police Department.