A judge has denied a man’s request to withdraw his guilty plea to murder and other charges in the 2015 death of Lexington attorney Mark Hinkel.
Scott Circuit Judge Paul Isaacs later sentenced Odilon Paz-Salvador on Friday to 35 years in prison, with no eligibility for parole for 20 years.
“I’d like to apologize to the family,” Paz-Salvador said through an interpreter before sentencing. “I’m really sorry for what happened. If I could fix it, I’d fix it.”
In her victim-impact statement in court, Hinkel’s wife, Mary-Lynn, directly addressed Paz-Salvador. She said her 2-year-old grandson, Henry, would be at her house and say “I miss my grandpa.”
“I hope and pray that you serve every day of that 35-year sentence,” Mary-Lynn Hinkel said.
Paz-Salvador, 30, was driving drunk in Scott County and struck Hinkel during the annual Horsey Hundred in May 2015, police said at the time.
Hinkel, 57, was struck head-on and hit the windshield of the black Dodge truck driven by Paz-Salvador, who then drove nearly three miles with Hinkel in the bed of the truck, police said.
When he was pulled over, police found a cold beer in a cup holder in the truck, and Paz-Salvador told the arresting officer he had drunk six beers and had smoked marijuana before the crash.
The other charges included wanton endangerment and fleeing or evading police.
Paz-Salvador had pleaded guilty in July, but at his sentencing hearing in October, he asked to withdraw his plea.
Defense attorney Greg Coulson argued that his client’s unfamiliarity with the legal system and an “intellectual disability” prevented him from fully understanding a plea offer from prosecutors. Coulson also argued that Paz-Salvador needed more time to comprehend the plea offer.
But Commonwealth’s Attorney Gordie Shaw said Paz-Salvador “was not unfamiliar with the court process” given that the defendant had nine previous DUIs.
Judge Isaacs agreed, saying, “I’m convinced the defendant had sufficient time to process this.”
Isaacs also said that when Paz-Salvador sought to withdraw his plea in October, “he didn’t say ‘I didn’t know what I was doing.’” Instead, Paz-Salvador said, “I don’t think it’s fair for me to plead guilty. It wasn’t intentional.”
After Hinkel’s death, a bill was signed into law to allow a fourth DUI conviction within 10 years to be treated as a felony. Previously, it was within five years.
About 40 relatives, co-workers and friends of Hinkel were in the courtroom gallery.
Andrea Hinkel Creyer, Hinkel’s youngest daughter, said in her victim-impact statement that she had hoped to walk down the aisle with her father when she married.
“I wanted to hold him tight on that walk, but I couldn’t,” she said.