Drunken Driver Kills Va. Nun: Police

Nun was on her way to a retreat when her car was hit by an alleged drunken driver

Denise Mosier, a 66-year-old nun, was killed in a collision in Prince William County when police said a drunken driver crossed the center line and hit the car she was riding in head-on.

The three nuns in the car were headed to a retreat at the Saint Benedict Monastery in Bristow about five miles away from the scene of the crash on Bristow Road near Wright Lane at about 8:20 a.m. Sunday.

Sister Andrea Verchuck said Mosier was a joyful person.

“Sister Denise was a beautiful person, a very spiritual person and a very happy and a very jovial happy person. She loved music and dance and she loved teaching. As a matter of fact she spent several years teaching in Africa,” said Sister Andrea Verchuck.

Police said Carlos Martinelly-Montano, 23, of Bristow, was behind the wheel of the Subaru Outback that hit the nuns. He is an illegal immigrant who was out on bond awaiting a deportation hearing, police said Monday.

Martinelly-Montano was driving south on Bristow Road when he hit a guardrail and crossed into the path of the nuns’ Toyota Corolla, which was traveling north, police said.

Police said Mosier was in the back seat and was not wearing a seatbelt. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Sister Charlotte Lange and Sister Connie Ruth Lupton suffered severe injuries and were hospitalized.

Police said Martinelly-Montano was speeding and under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash, and this isn’t the first time he’s driven drunk. Martinelly-Montano told authorities he'd stopped drinking at 11 p.m. the night before and thought he was sober enough to drive at 8 a.m. Sunday.

He’s been charged with DUI for the third time in five years, involuntary manslaughter and driving on a revoked license related to a DUI offense, according to Prince William County police Officer Jonathan Perok. News4's Julie Carey has learned that Prince William County Commonwealth Attorney Paul Ebert will ask the jury to return a felony murder indictment against Martinelly-Montano next month. Ebert has never done this before with a drunken driving fatality, but he researched it, and felony murder includes "an unintended death in commission of a felony." The third DUI is the felony.

Prince William County police notified U.S. Immigration and Naturalization officials about Montano after his second drunken driving arrest in October 2008, Perok said. Immigration officials said a shortage of detention space forces them to make tough decisions about which illegal immigrants to detain and which to let go during deportation proceedings.

"[Martinelly-Montano] did not meet the criteria for mandatory detention and he was not a level one offender, meaning a dangerous or violent felon," Immigrations and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said. "He was released with restrictions and reported monthly as required."

Martinelly-Montano has two children in the area, so he was not considered a flight risk.

Police are investigating how Montano obtained the driver's license, Perok said.

Montano was hospitalized after the crash, as were the two other nuns, who are in their 70s. They’re all expected to survive.

Sister Verchuck said she will forgive Montano for his actions and that she believes alcohol abuse is a sickness that sometimes prevents people from seeing the consequences of their actions.

She said she hopes that he receives treatment he needs.

"While we pray for the driver, let us also recommit ourselves to eliminating this absolutely unacceptable behavior," said Bishop Paul S. Loverde of the Diocese of Arlington. "Yes, via programs in our schools, but also by the example that we set in our homes and communities."

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