Driver convicted in crash that killed Albuquerque hip-hop artist

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Jun. 25—A Santa Fe jury deliberated for less than an hour Thursday before convicting Diego Pichardo, 25, of causing a fatal 2019 crash that killed Albuquerque hip-hop artist Andrew Martinez, who performed under the name Wake Self.

"The case was a terrible tragedy, but we are gratified and pleased with the results," District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said Thursday. "Hopefully this gives some closure to the victims."

Pichardo's trial had been scheduled to last through Tuesday, but Carmack-Altwies said it went quicker than expected in part because Pichardo's attorney, Arturo Nieto, did not put on a case in defense of his client or ask many questions of the state's roughly 20 witnesses.

Nieto could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

At trial, witnesses testified Pichardo was speeding down West Alameda Street in his black Chevrolet pickup, passing vehicles on the wrong side of the road around 10 p.m. Nov. 3, 2019, just moments before colliding with a silver Ford sedan driven by Martinez, who was 30.

Prosecutors charged Pichardo with vehicular homicide DWI as well as vehicular homicide reckless driving, and Carmack-Altwies said jurors found him guilty of having done both.

Pichardo also was charged with causing great bodily injury to Martinez's passenger, Kevin Allende, and jurors convicted him of both DWI and recklessness in relation to that charge as well. He was also convicted of simple DWI and reckless driving.

Carmack-Altwies said Pichardo faces up to 18 years in prison when he is sentenced.

The defense argued someone else might have been driving Pichardo's truck.

According to previous reports of the incident, at least one witness said another truck had picked up someone from the scene at West Alameda and Camino Alire and sped away before police arrived.

In his opening statement, Nieto told jurors many of the facts of the case were undisputed, but "there is almost no evidence that Mr. Pichardo was driving the black truck."

But none of the witnesses who took the stand Tuesday spoke about seeing a second truck, though one said Pichardo told her someone else had been in his vehicle with him at the time of the crash but had run away.

Pichardo and his former employer, The Bull Ring, are named as defendants in a civil suit filed by Allende's family, which accuses the restaurant of serving Pichardo alcohol at work before the crash.

Martinez had been expected to perform at a release party for his new album, Ready to Live, just days after his death.

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