A White Plains, Maryland, man has been sentenced to 22 years in prison in the DUI crash that killed three children on Indian Head Highway last year.
Thomas Hawks, 28, was sentenced Thursday in the death of 5-year-old twins Alexander and Rosalie Mejia and their 1-year-old brother, Isaac.
In addition to the prison sentence, he will spend five years on probation, and he must serve eight hours of community service on his birthday, on the birthdays of the Mejia children and their parents, and on the anniversary of the Dec. 30, 2018, crash in Oxon Hill. He will also have to have an alcohol interlock device in his car.
At the sentencing, Prince George’s County Circuit Judge Jared McCarthy told Hawks that “you owe these children a debt,” and that he did not know how Hawks can pay that debt.
Hawks apologized to the family and said that he is ashamed and will never forgive himself. “I sincerely wish that I died that night,” he said.
The children’s father, Alexis Mejia, told the court that Hawks “made the decision to commit murder.”
Prosecuting and defense attorneys called the case one of the toughest in their careers, with the judge saying that an unintentional act caused “havoc” and “mayhem.”
“He’s a good man that did the worst possible thing that he could have done,” defense attorney Hammad Matin said.
He described his client as someone who excelled in sports and academics and eventually found work in the information technology field.
Hawks’ father, Stephen, said that his son is “not an uncaring monster,” and the night of the crash was the worst night of their lives.
The children’s mother, Juana, told the court that she still wakes up looking for her children in the middle of the night. Hawks, she said, should pay the price for “murdering her children,” and that what he did was no different than him using a gun.
Matin said that Hawks has been remorseful throughout the process and has been ready to plead guilty since Day One. “Every day he wakes up with shame,” he said.
Hawks pleaded guilty in July to several charges, including vehicular manslaughter. At the plea hearing, prosecutors said Hawks was drunk when he left a Redskins game on the night of the crash.
Hawks admitted that he drank 10 beers at the game before getting behind the wheel of his Chevy Silverado and crashing into the Mejia family’s car. The family had been heading home from church and was stopped at a light on Indian Head Highway at Wilson Bridge Drive.
At Thursday’s sentencing hearing, McCarthy said that he was mystified that Hawks, who does not have a criminal record, paid for a hotel room near FedEx Field so he did not have to drive that night, yet he decided to drive anyway.
According to prosecutors, the impact sent Hawks’ truck into the air, falling on top of the family’s car and causing the Mejias’ car to rear-end two other vehicles.
When police first arrived on the scene, Alexis, Juana and the three children were trapped inside their vehicle. The parents were extricated, but the children died at the scene.
At his plea hearing, police said that Hawks had to be forcibly removed from his truck and that they could smell alcohol on him.
He was charged and arraigned in January but was released after posting an $80,000 bond.
In May, his defense asked McCarthy to dismiss the indictment against him on the grounds that statements made my Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy jeopardized his right to a fair trial. McCarthy denied the request.
“There are no words to describe this crash except to say it is a tragedy,” Mark Brady, spokesman for the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department, told WTOP in December.
WTOP’s Mike Murillo contributed to this report from Prince George’s County, Maryland.