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Victim's family implores judge to protect community against Sergio Suarez-Sanchez

PIONEER FILE PHOTO - On January 17, at 10:30 in the morning a head-on collision killed Annamarie Wallace. Court documents report the other driver, Sergio Suarez-Sanchez, had a blood alcohol level of .096, above the legal limit. The accident occured on the Culver Highway southwest of Madras.

The accused intoxicated driver in a January fatal accident will stay in jail until the court resolves the case against him.

Sergio Suarez-Sanchez, 37, faces first- and second-degree manslaughter charges, as well as driving under the influence of intoxicants, and third-degree assault in connection with an accident that took the life of Annamarie Wallace, and injured her husband John Wallace, the driver of the second vehicle.

At a hearing Wednesday, Aug. 3, Suarez-Sanchez' attorney Shelby Thomas requested Judge Annette Hillman to reduce her client's bail from $500,000 to $100,000, allowing him to post $10,000 bond, an amount his family had been saving.

The Wallace family and friends filled one side of the courtroom, and testified in tears pleading for the judge to protect the community from Suarez-Sanchez.

COURTESY PHOTO - Family says Annamarie Wallace spent her life saving lives as a Registered Nurse. Here's she's pictured with three of her twelve grandchildren.

"I don't want any family to have to go through what I went through," said the victim's daughter Hanne Davis holding her three-week old baby. "Sergio not only took my mom, he took my best friend."

On January 17, at 10:30 a.m. the Suarez-Sanchez in his black Chevy Tahoe collided head-on with the Wallaces' gray Dodge 3500 on the Culver Highway southwest of Madras. The police report noted the accused blood alcohol level was over the legal limit at .096.

Suarez-Sanches was on probation at the time with terms that prohibited drinking alcohol.

"He is the epitome of a repeat offender," said Theresa Wallace, the victim's sister-in-law, referring to the accused's criminal history which includes another arrest for driving under the influence. "Mistakes repeated are no longer mistakes, they are choices," said Theresa Wallace.

"He's not a man, he's an animal," said the victim's nephew, Clyde "Matt" Wallace, referring to an aggravated animal abuse charge where Suarez-Sanchez pleaded guilty to throwing a cat to the ground, stomping on the cat, grinding its teeth into a door frame, and pouring peroxide into the cat's eyes.

"Who abuses animals?" said Matt Wallace.

Suarez-Sanchez didn't blink or flinch as the Wallace family and Chief Deputy District Attorney Brentley Foster listed the crimes he'd committed.

He attended the hearing by camera feed from the Crook County Jail.

His prior criminal record includes, among other charges, seven charges of assault, reckless endangering, strangulation, harassment, menacing and unlawful use of a weapon.

Family and friends of the accused circled for a moment of prayer before the filled the courtroom seats behind the defense attorney.

Thomas brought the judge's attention to letters attesting to her client's character.

"He has a great heart, he finishes his jobs, he has a good work ethic," said Thomas, adding that Suarez-Sanchez would be willing to wear an alcohol monitor if released.

She pointed out he also needed medical care for the head injury, back and hip injuries and chipped teeth he suffered in the accident, and that he needed counseling for trauma.

"He feels burdened for the victim's family, for himself and for his own family," added Thomas.

Judge Hillman denied bail, based on the accused pattern of criminality and pattern of inability to conform to court ordered stipulations.

Members of the Suarez-Sanchez family said they were not surprised, but wished people could know Sergio's good side. "He led Bible studies, fed the homeless, focused on mind, body, spirit," said a family member who did not want to be named.

The Wallace family expressed relief.

"I don't think I should have to worry about running into him," said Davis.

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