Man sentenced to life in prison for deadly crash

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Joshua Enriquez

Joshua Enriquez apologized Tuesday for killing two women and seriously injuring two others after he intentionally rammed into their car and caused it to crash on the Northwest Side.

“I’m sorry for what happened,” the longtime Latin King gang member told the victims’ families, telling them he’d switch places with the dead if he could.

Cook County Judge Joseph Claps sentenced 31-year-old Enriquez to life in prison for the wreck on May 3, 2009, that claimed the lives of Gabriela “Gaby” Almanza, 22, and Nichole Mijares, 19.

Almanza’s family didn’t testify during the sentencing hearing. Mijares’ friend, sister and mother wrote statements about how they felt losing the always-smiling teen who was just a week away from prom and graduation when she was killed.

Karen Chew said she was paralyzed with grief after her daughter’s death and could no longer get out of bed for work.

Chew said it was months before she took a step in Mijares’ bedroom. Mijares wanted to be a doctor and mentored young children, her mother said.

“I cannot find words to describe the immense pain and anger that I felt from losing my daughter. There was a point in my life that I questioned ‘Why her? Why now? Why not me?’” Chew said in the victim-impact statement that Assistant State’s Attorney Nina Ricci read in court.

“Everyday I wake up wishing that this was a dream and it’s not true — this did not happen.”

Over two dozen of Almanza’s and Mijares’ friends and relatives were in court Tuesday. Many wore red shirts bearing the victims’ faces.

During Enriquez’s 2012 trial, prosecutors said he was bent on inflicting harm on ex-girlfriend Karina Paredes and intentionally rammed his SUV into the Pontiac Grand Am she was riding in until it flew off the road and crashed into a tree at Kedzie Avenue and Augusta Boulevard.

Almanza’s sister, Maria Ortega, was behind the wheel of the Pontiac. She needed nearly 60 stitches after the crash.

Paredes was also injured.

Enriquez called 911 but didn’t help the women, Ricci said.

Assistant public defender Jeffrey Walker insisted his client didn’t mean hurt anyone.

“His actions were foolish. His actions were ill conceived. But they weren’t meant to harm anyone,” Walker said.

But Ricci said the “career criminal” killed the two women by repeatedly “ramming” his car into theirs “again and again.”

Enriquez was convicted on murder and aggravated battery charges.

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