Posted on November 22, 2005

Accused Driver Has Past Charges

Cleve R. Wootson, Jr., Charlotte Observer, Nov. 22

A man charged with second-degree murder in a fiery wreck that killed a UNC Charlotte student Friday has faced previous impaired-driving charges and has been sent back to Mexico 17 times, authorities said Monday.

The man’s name is Jorge Humberto Hernandez-Soto, although he has used several, including Jorge Gonzales Martinez, said N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Clayton Amaral.

Authorities told reporters that he has two prior impaired-driving arrests — one in Colorado and one in Tennessee. He also was ticketed for driving without a license in Georgia, the Observer’s news partner, WCNC, reported. It was unclear Monday whether he was convicted on those charges.

Hernandez-Soto, 35, was deported from Tucson, Ariz., twice and from El Paso, Texas, once. He voluntarily returned to Mexico 14 times after being caught within miles of the border, immigration officials said.

“We have no idea how he’s getting back in” the country, said Jeff Jordan, assistant special agent in charge of North Carolina for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

On Monday, the charges against Hernandez-Soto were upgraded to include a second-degree murder charge. He is scheduled to make a first court appearance today in Mecklenburg County.

Hernandez-Soto, who told officers he is from Lake City, S.C., told the Observer in a hospital interview Saturday that he drank six beers before Friday’s wreck. He was headed north in the southbound lanes, going faster than 100 mph while officers signaled him to pull over from across the median, Amaral said.