(Delmarvanow.com) -- An Eastville man facing DUI and hit-and-run charges will face a trial, but his father and sister were recently convicted of obstruction of justice in the case in a Northampton County court.
Evoraldo “Lalo” Maldonado, of Eastville, had been in jail for almost a year since he was charged with DUI 3rd or subsequent offense and hit-and-run with injury in a crash near Cape Charles in December 2016.
But at a bench trial in late December 2017, a judge sided with the prosecution which claimed that Maldonado’s father, Lamberto, and sister Sonia, lied repeatedly to police about the case.
According to police testimony in court, Maldonado was the driver of a pickup truck that was involved in a single-vehicle crash on Dec. 30, 2016, which also injured a passenger, identified later as Justin Travis.
The truck, which was registered to Lamberto Maldonado, ran off the road outside Cape Charles and flipped several times, the court heard. When police arrived at the scene of the crash, no one was there, according to court testimony.
But police said they found a cellphone belonging to a Travis in the vehicle.
A short time later, Sonia Maldonado, of Cape Charles, arrived at the scene. She insisted she did not know who was driving the truck and that it was stolen.
When police went to her father’s home, he said he did not know who was driving his truck and told police it was stolen. He insisted his son was not at home in his nearby trailer but finally agreed to check. Police found Evoraldo Maldonado inside who told officers he was at home all night, the court heard.
Prosecution witnesses at the trial testified that Evoraldo Maldonado, known to friends and family as Lalo, was drinking with Travis at Kelley’s Pub in Cape Charles the night before and were seen leaving at about 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 30.
A woman he met at the bar and with whom he exchanged telephone numbers testified Maldonado called her a short time later and said he was in an accident and asked her to come and pick him up. She did not do it.
It was technology that led investigators to Maldonado and Travis, the court heard.
Northampton County Investigator Tara Leckel along with an FBI investigator presented evidence taken from cellphone records that tracked not only calls but the locations from which they were made.
Those records showed that Travis, the injured passenger, was taken to Sentara Norfolk General hospital.
He testified on the witness stand that he thought he was taken there by a Hispanic woman. Maldonado’s cellphone and photos of the license plate of her car confirmed she was the person who bypassed the local hospital and took the injured man to Norfolk to be treated.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Bruce Jones said she did this so he and her brother could not be connected with the wreck of the pickup truck.
Jones argued that both Sonia and Lamberto Maldonado repeatedly lied to police, saying the truck had been stolen when they knew Lalo was driving and had previous DUI convictions on his record.
Defense attorney Patrick Bales argued that someone other than Sonia Maldonado could have been driving her car and using her cellphone that night.
Judge W. Revell Lewis III did not agree. He convicted Sonia Maldonado and Lamberto Maldonado of obstruction of justice after dismissing other charges of hit-and-run and false report to law enforcement.
He said neither defendant reported the accident and they tried to conceal the whereabouts of Lalo. The two family members were allowed to remain on bond until sentencing.