August 9, 2023 | Criminal Defense
Axel Ndagijimana, 24, was charged with second-degree manslaughter in June 2021 after he was involved in a deadly crash. Ndagijimana was driving more than 80 miles an hour in a 25 mph zone when he lost control of his car and crashed into a utility pole on the side of the road. The crash killed his passenger, Ralph Hirwa. A blood test taken after the accident showed Ndagijimana’s BAC was nearly double the legal limit.
The initial manslaughter charge would have led to Ndagijimana being deported back to Rwanda if he had been convicted. Ndagijimana fled the country a decade ago in order to escape the civil war raging there and has been living in the United States on a student visa.
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Bradley Clark acknowledged that his client made a “monumental error in judgment” when he chose to drive while intoxicated. But Clark argued that Ndagijimana was at very low risk of reoffending. In his sentencing memorandum, Clark wrote, “It is essential to emphasize that Axel has not shied away from his responsibility for the incident. He stands before this court, acknowledging his error, not seeking to absolve himself of guilt, but pleading guilty to his charge. His acceptance of culpability is a testament to his remorse and personal integrity, even amidst the profound grief and regret that weigh heavily upon him.”
Recognizing the low risk of reoffense and the high stakes of sentencing Ndagijimana to prison, Fayette Circuit Judge Kimberly Bunnell sentenced Ndagijimana to two and a half years in prison for an amended charge of reckless homicide. She then probated the sentence for three years. Ndagijimana won’t serve prison time as long as he doesn’t violate the terms of his probation.
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