El Paso

Victim's family to Larry Otero: 'Bring us Gabriel, can you do that?'

Larry Otero sentenced

EL PASO, Texas - Larry Phillip Otero, the drunk driver who killed a man in a wrong-way crash, was formally sentenced to 12 years in prison Thursday.

Otero was allegedly driving the wrong way on I-10 East at Zaragoza in the early morning of November 14th, 2013 when he struck a car being driven by 29-year-old Gabriel Morales.

Morales' family was out of town during the initial sentencing and requested the official sentencing hearing to be delayed.

Morales' sister, Veronica Herrera, read an impact statement inside the courtroom Thursday, beginning with the memory of when she first met her little brother on Christmas day in 1983. She told the courtroom everyone noticed when Gabriel walked into a room.

Herrera tearfully described her brother as a "tender, sweet angel." Many of Morales' family members in the courtroom were in tears as they listened.

Herrera went on to say there are no winning sides and there is no justice, no prison sentence equivalent to Morales' life. She asked Otero, "Bring me Gabriel, can you do that?" Otero didn't respond.

After the sentencing, Herrera told ABC-7 she felt a sense of relief.

"It feels like a relief to be able to tell him, talk to him and tell him. More importantly for me, I wanted to tell him who my brother was and how important he was to us and the fabulous person, human being that he was and I think today, I did that."

Hererra says she'll miss Morales' laughter the most.

"It's an honor as person to have had this special person be my brother," Herrera said.

Herrera says it was important to have the entire family inside during the sentencing.

"Those words that I wrote, have been words that collectively we feel and in one way or another they have been said. The support feels good because they're not necessarily here to support us, but to be a testimony of how great a man Gabriel was."

Herrera added although she felt a sense of relief, justice will never be served for her family.

"To me, justice means you have, there's some sort of equality, and justice is not fair when all we want is Gabriel and we're walking out of this courtroom without him. So equitable would be for us to walk with him, that he gave Gabriel back. I wanted him to give me Gabriel back, I asked him, can he do that? And he can't. There's nothing, no time, no words--and that's the one thing we want, is him."

Morales' mother tells ABC-7 the pain will never go away, adding her heart continues to be broken, but she thanks god because it was a small form of justice.

Chris Sanchez, the owner of the Wild Hair Salon, worked with Morales for ten years. He also wrote an impact letter for the official sentencing hearing.

"Can you imagine your mother screaming for you? Falling to her knees as your father tries to be strong but he can't? Your brothers and sisters who grew up with you, loved you, would die for you, can you imagine their pain?"

He spoke about Morales' smile, laughter and joy, saying he lit up any room.

"My words may mean little to those listening to the words being spoken but I would like to say all that I can about a brilliant young man who became family."

He finished his letter saying, "Good men like him deserve more than what happened that night. Good men like Gabriel deserve justice."

Sanchez says the salon hasn't been the same since, but now that Otero has been sentenced, he feels the family can now begin to move forward.

"I feel like the page has been turned and now we can go forward. See what the next page holds for us."

Otero was sentenced to 12 years for intoxication manslaughter and was immediately taken into custody.

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