Santa Fe man sentenced to 12 years for fatal DWI crash

Editor’s Note: This story published late, eight months after sentencing, because court records were not previously available.

Read the case write up

SANTA FE, N.M. — Paulo Vega-Mendoza will spend 12 years in prison for crashing into motorcyclist Paul Padilla and killing him, in 2017.

Paulo Vega-Mendoza

District Court Judge T. Glenn Ellington sentenced Vega-Mendoza, 25, of Santa Fe, to 12 years followed by three years of supervised probation on Sept. 27, 2019. He had previously pleaded guilty to a single count of DWI vehicular homicide on April 29, 2019, under a plea signed by prosecutor Blake Nichols.

Ellington gave Vega-Mendoza credit for 792 days served, just over two years, for time spent in jail and on electronic monitoring prior sentencing.

Vega-Mendoza ran into the back of Padilla’s motorcycle, April 15, 2017, on Airport Road in Santa Fe. He fled from the scene and then crashed his own car, a Dodge Neon. It landed on its hood.

Witnesses, and then officers, allegedly chased Vega-Mendoza on foot before he tried to climb and fence and it broke, throwing him backward.

Padilla, 63,  died from extensive brain injuries on April 25, 2017.

For more details, please see the summary of the case.

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Suspect: Paulo Vega-Mendoza

Victim: Paul Padilla, 63

Charges: DWI great bodily harm, knowingly leaving the scene of an accident causing great bodily harm or death, failure to give notice of an accident and criminal damage to property under $1,000

Status: Sentenced following guilty plea to vehicular homicide DWI

Sentence: 12 years followed by 3 years supervised probation

Date of incident: April 15, 2017

Agency: Santa Fe Police Department

Location: Airport Road, Santa Fe

Magistrate case number: M-49-FR-2017-00472

District case number: D-101-CR-201700533

Sentencing judge: T. Glenn Ellington

Judicial district: First Judicial District

Prosecutor: Blake Nichols

Prosecuting agency: First Judicial District Attorney’s Office