EL PASO, Texas - A jury has sentenced the former Fort Bliss soldier convicted of killing two men after barreling through a construction site to 10 years probation. It suspended the prison sentence.
Friday, defense attorneys representing Jan Michael Nieves Delgado asked jurors to punish their client with probation. A defense attorney even cited Alexander Pope, telling the jury "to err is human, to forgive divine."
"I ask for mercy for Jon. This is a young man who has so much to offer his community," a defense attorney said, "Allow Jon to motivate people and inspire people."
A prosecutor argued the punishment should fit the crime. "Think about all of the choices the defendant made that led to the deaths," the prosecutor said, "(Nieves Delgado), by his choices, gave Green and Broadstreet a death sentence. He gave their families a life sentence."
On Thursday, the same jury found Nieves Delgado guilty on two counts of Manslaughter. He was facing up to 20 years in prison for each count. Prosecutors were originally seeking a conviction on Intoxicated Manslaughter charges.
The judge ordered Nieves Delgado to pay a $20,000 fine.
In 2014, the former Fort Bliss soldier crashed through construction barriers, killing construction workers Jimmy Joe Broadstreet, 54; and James Green, 39.
"There was no way any justice would be served tonight," said James Irby, a co-worker of the victims. "Nothing he could do would bring back my friends I just hope he makes the best of what's left of his life."
Nieves Delgado allegedly told police at the scene he "had three shots" and was behind the wheel because his friend was "too drunk to drive." A forensic scientist testified the former soldier's blood alcohol content level was .11, .03 over the legal limit.
During closing arguments in the sentencing phase, the defense played video of Nieves Delgado singing in church.
The defense called a pastor to the stand, who told jurors Nieves Delgado helped at the church food bank without being asked to do so.
The defense also showed jurors photos of Nieves Delgado helping build a walkway for the church. The pastor said he remembered Nieves Delgado as a responsible and caring young man "good with people of the church."
Nieves Deldago's mother described her son as happy child with outstanding student honors who would tutor other students.
The woman said he loved ROTC, was a high-ranking cadet and always wanted to serve in military.
"He needed my permission to join the army because he was a minor," she said.