A hit-and-run driver – who stopped to get food at a taco shop after killing a father in San Diego’s Sherman Heights community – will spend the next four years in prison, a judge ruled Monday.
Christopher Nunez, 29, pleaded guilty late last year to vehicular manslaughter for the death of Jason Gordon, 41.
On Jan. 19, 2020, at around 2 a.m., Nunez hit Gordon with his SUV along the 1800 block of Market Street. Deputy District Attorney Jessica Paugh said Gordon was crossing the street when Nunez hit him, dragging him more than 100 feet down the roadway.
Nunez fled the scene, leaving Gordon – a husband and a father of toddler twin girls – to die. Nunez then stopped to buy food at Humberto’s Taco Shop less than a mile from the scene of the deadly hit-and-run. A surveillance camera captured images of him ordering a meal. While in the parking lot of the taco shop, police said Nunez also crashed into another car, but no one was hurt.
The images of Nunez at the taco shop were released by police to the public and, three days later, Nunez was arrested at a home in Oak Park in connection with the deadly hit-and-run. At that home, police also found the SUV involved in the crash.
Following the death of Gordon, NBC 7 spoke with his widow, Katie Gordon, who called her husband the “family rock.” As she grieved, she said so much of her pain came from knowing their daughters – MaKayla and Malea – wouldn’t grow up with their dad by their side.
“Jason was an amazing soul,” Katie Gordon told NBC 7 in that January 2020 interview. “He was our family rock.”
"[The driver] cheated him of watching his girls grow up, being my husband and family man," Katie Gordon added. "I just don't know who would do something like this."
According to Paugh, Nunez initially claimed he thought he'd struck a dog, but the prosecutor questioned that claim and chided Nunez for not returning to the scene to confirm what he'd struck.
“He did not even give Mr. Gordon the courtesy one would give a dog that you hit in the street and instead, he left him to die alone while he went and got a taco,” Paugh added.
At his sentencing Monday, Nunez had a chance to speak to Gordon’s family. He said his “heart completely sank” when he discovered he’d killed someone.
“I am ashamed of my irresponsible behavior. Your family does not deserve what I did,” Nunez said in court. “I should have been driving in a careful manner and vigilant of the road ahead.”
Several of Gordon's family members urged San Diego Superior Court Judge Daniel Goldstein to impose the maximum possible sentence, which would have been six years.
Katie Gordon also had an opportunity to address the court.
She said the pain has not and will not go away.
“Every day I wake up with a broken heart,” she said.
“(Nunez) did not even have the decency to stop,” the victim’s widow added. “He did not stop to see if he could save Jason's life. He did not call 911. He did not stop to take responsibility for what he's done.”
Goldstein said he did not find the upper term of six years appropriate given Nunez's lack of criminal record, though he also denied a defense request for a sentence of probation.
Though the judge said Gordon likely would not have survived even if Nunez had stopped, he said, “There's a matter of human decency that you stop and you try and help at least.”