MARTINEZ -- A court case involving a drunken driving crash that killed an Antioch teenager earlier this year ended in Contra Costa Superior Court on Friday with the driver sentenced to four years in state prison.
Rafael Madrid, 19, of Antioch, pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. The March 19 accident on Antioch's James Donlon Boulevard killed Pablo Garibay, whom Madrid referred to as his best friend.
"I know I could say sorry a million times, but it won't bring him back," Madrid told Garibay's family from behind a glass holding area in the Martinez courtroom. "I'm in so much pain because I'm the reason I lost my best friend, but I know your pain is way worse than mine."
About 40 members of the Garibay and Madrid families attended the sentencing hearing.
Theresa Cuevas, Pablo's mother, gave a tear-filled testimony about her son's infectious smile and excitement about his new car and prospects for the future.
"I want justice. I feel like I'm on a life sentence without my son," she said.
"(Pablo) was the light in the dark of our family. My heart is shattered," Pablo's father, Jose Garibay, added through an interpreter.
The crash also severely injured twin female teenage passengers and caused minor injury to another male passenger. None of the passengers was wearing seat belts, deputy district attorney Simon O'Connell said.
Madrid and his friends had just left a party the night of March 19 when the Dodge Durango he was driving hit a retaining wall on a rain-slicked James Donlon near Nightingale Drive in Antioch.
The group of friends went out every weekend, with one person opting to be a designated driver. On this night, Madrid was supposed to stay sober to drive that night.
"He made a conscious decision to break that promise," O'Connell said.
Madrid's family asked Judge Brian Haynes for a more lenient sentence of probation, saying he did not have a criminal record and was getting treatment for his alcohol addiction.
"There are no winners here," said Bernardo Lopez, Madrid's great uncle. "He's not a criminal at heart; he needs people around that can mentor him, not prisoners."
Haynes said the law dictates a stronger sentence than probation because the consequences of Madrid's actions were much more serious than other crimes involving drunken driving.
Madrid's parents, Gloria and Rafael Madrid, expressed sympathy to Pablo Garibay's family but also concern about their son.
"Hopefully, someday he can be forgiven, and he can forgive himself," Gloria Madrid said.
Madrid will be subject to three years' parole upon his release and have to pay restitution.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.