Eliu Montes-Garcia pleads guilty to helping Norma Vera-Nolasco in Jose Medina hit & run
Big pic below.
Four people were arrested following the hit-and-run death of Rockstar Lounge valet Jose Medina -- and last week, three of them, including Norma Vera-Nolasco, who was allegedly so drunk she didn't realize she'd run over someone, pleaded guilty. Now, the holdout, Eliu Montes-Garcia, has entered a guilty plea, too.
Vera-Nolasco was driving Montes-Garcia's white pickup when she struck Medina -- not that she realized what had happened at the time. She reportedly discovered damage to the vehicle upon her return home, and only realized that the dings had caused a fatal injury to the valet when watching news reports.
At that point, Montes-Garcia, who told cops Vera-Nolasco seemed soused when she told him about the crash, is said to have helped her hide the vehicle, while Yolanda Bastida-Nolasco and her husband, Guadalupe Bastida, provided assists as she tried to flee the country -- and she almost made it. She was arrested at the airport in Phoenix shortly before catching a flight to Mexico. The four don't have proper documentation to live in the U.S.
In the end, Montes-Garcia pleaded guilty to one count of accessory to crime, a felony. He's scheduled for sentencing July 25, at which point his past record will likely come into play. He was reportedly busted in 2007 for drug distribution and various driving crimes. That earned him nine months in stir, after which he was deported to Mexico. He was arrested again in March 2008 for trying to sneak back into the country. Shortly thereafter, he was sent back to Mexico, but he obviously managed to reenter the U.S. at some point without getting caught.
Until after Vera-Nolasco's fateful drive, that is. Look below for our earlier coverage, including a larger look at Montes-Garcia's mug shot.
Original item, 7:59 a.m. June 21: In January, Rockstar Lounge valet Jose Medina was killed in a hit-and-run that led to four arrests -- Norma Vera-Nolasko, the driver, who was nabbed at the Phoenix airport just before boarding a flight to Mexico, and three accused conspirators, who engaged in a coverup and helped her flee. Now, three of the four have pleaded guilty -- including Vera-Nolasko, who was allegedly so drunk she didn't realize she'd run over Medina.
According to Vera-Nolasco's arrest affidavit (on view below, along with three probable cause statements), she told Eliu Montes-Garcia -- the first person busted in the case, and the only one to plead not guilty -- that she thought she'd hit something on Lincoln while behind the wheel of her white pickup. After all, her side mirror was dangling from the side of the vehicle. But that wasn't the only evidence of a crash. Montes-Garcia told cops the truck also had fresh damage on the front and the side. He added that Vera-Nolasco, who'd been cited in 2007 and 2008 for driving without a license or insurance, sounded drunk during the conversation.
How reliable is this account? Montes-Garcia has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident, vehicular homicide and two criminal accessory counts -- suggesting that the Denver District Attorney's Office believes he was present at the crash.
Shortly thereafter, another witness told cops, Vera-Nolasco saw news coverage of Medina's death at the spot where the suspected hit had taken place. At that point, Montes-Garcia told cops, she was scared -- fear likely compounded by the fact that she was in the United States illegally, as was Montes-Garcia. He'd been busted in 2007 for drug distribution and various driving sins, and after being sentenced to nine months in prison, he was deported to Mexico. Two months later, in March 2008, he was caught trying to reenter the country and promptly sent back. But apparently, the third time was the charm.
Vera-Nolasco arranged with Montes-Garcia to hide her pickup in Commerce City, then took off for Arizona as police were zeroing in on her. Officers soon saw Guadalupe Bastida, her half-brother, throwing out a white plastic bag containing the pickup's registration and other documents showing that she lived in Denver. As for Yolanda Bastida-Nolasco, she initially claimed not to know Vera-Nolasco -- but her probable cause statement says she later admitted to driving her to Denver International Airport, buying a ticket to Mexico City on her Visa card, and giving Vera-Nolasco her ID.
Now, Bastida and Bastida-Nolasco (neither of whom are legal U.S. residents, either) have pleaded guilty to one count each of aiding an escape -- a misdemeanor. Meanwhile, Vera-Nolasco offered a guilty plea for vehicular homicide, a crime that could result in a twelve-year prison jolt. That leaves only Montes-Garcia, who remains in custody on a $150,000 bond. His trial is set for later this summer -- if he doesn't raise the white flag first.
Look below to see mug shots of the four suspects in the case, followed by the aforementioned arrest affidavit and probable cause statements.
Vera-Nolasco Arrest Affidavit:
Montes-Garcia Probable Cause Statement:
Bastida Probable Cause Statement:
Bastida-Nolasco Probable Cause Statement:
More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Brandon Mondragon charged in hit-and-run that injured Tim Albo, Heather Kornman."
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Denver, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.