San Diego

Retrial Set for Oft-Deported Immigrant in DUI Hit-and-Run That Harmed Child

Constantino Banda illegally entered the U.S. a number of times for more than 10 years and was deported 15 times, CBP said.

A repeatedly deported unauthorized immigrant accused of driving drunk and causing a crash that badly hurt a child returning from Disneyland will stand trial again, prosecutors confirmed Thursday.

Constantino Banda, 38, faces charges including driving under the influence, driving without a license and felony hit and run.

Last month, a San Diego judge declared a mistrial over Banda's case, after jurors deadlocked over the first three counts, according to prosecutors. They found Banda guilty of misdemeanor battery, vandalism and driving without a license. However, they could not reach an agreement on the DUI and hit-and-run charges.

On May 6, Banda collided with a family's car on Camino De La Plaza and Dair Mart Road in San Ysidro. Ingrid and Benjamin Lake were driving home from Disneyland with their 6-year-old son, Lennox Lake, when they were struck.

Lennox was seriously injured in the collision with a fractured skull. He was released from the hospital in late May and has continued recovering at home since then.

On Thursday, Banda was not granted a plea deal, according to prosecutors. He will next appear in court on Dec. 11, and his trial is set for Jan. 4.

The defendant has a lengthy history of being deported from the U.S. In the past, he has been deported a total of 15 times over the past decade. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the most recent deportation took place in January of this year.

After the collision, Banda allegedly fled the scene and was arrested shortly after by CBP officials, said police. The authorities then determined that Banda and his passenger were in the country illegally.

Benjamin previously told NBC 7 that he hopes the justice system will function correctly in this case.

"I just hope the justice system does what it's supposed to do and things are handled properly," said Benjamin.

On Saturday, after a fun day at Disneyland; Benjamin, his wife, and 6-year-old Lennox, were driving home in San Ysidro. As NBC 7’s Ashley Matthews reports, their lives changed in an instant.

An immigration lawyer, Jacob Sapochnick, told NBC 7 that although Banda has been deported an unusual number of times, it is common for unauthorized immigrants to re-enter the U.S. however they can.

"People know exactly where to cross, when to cross, what time to cross, how to do all that," Sapochnick said.

In 2016, there were over 23,000 people deported from San Diego.

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