Citizen Staff Writer
LAW AND ORDER REPORT
On Jan. 12, 2008, Jose Luis “Guapo” Rincon was struck down and killed by a drunken driver one month past his 14th birthday.
Glenda Lorraine Rumsey, 43, will spend the next 14 years of her life in prison for Rincon’s death, injuries to his best friend and driving drunk.
Pima County Superior Court Judge Richard S. Fields imposed the sentence Tuesday for a manslaughter conviction in Rincon’s death along with a concurrent 13-year term for aggravated assault to a minor for injuries suffered by Oscar Perez, then also 14.
The judge imposed concurrent 180-day jail sentences for three driving under the influence convictions.
Fields noted before sentencing that he wouldn’t impose consecutive sentences – for which Rumsey could have been sent to prison for more than 40 years – because of appellate issues that are sure to be raised.
Rumsey, who will be credited with 56 days for time served, sat through an often emotional three-hour sentencing hearing before more than 300 people. It was moved from the courthouse to the Board of Supervisors hearing room to accommodate the expected crowd.
“Your honor, I’m ashamed to be here today in front of all these people as a life has been lost because of something I will regret for the rest of my life,” Rumsey said. “It will be a reminder of my poor judgment of driving under the influence.”
Rumsey appeared disheveled in her orange jail jumpsuit, with her ankles shackled and hands cuffed to her waist.
“On Jan. 12, 2008, a life was lost due to my poor judgment, although at the time I didn’t realize it. I was proved wrong,” Rumsey said.
“I had no right driving that evening. Jose Rincon was in the right and I was in the wrong.”
Tests showed Rumsey’s blood alcohol content was almost 0.25 percent, more than three times the 0.08 level at which a driver is presumed drunk.
“Jose did not deserve to die that night,” the surviving victim, Perez, said before sentencing. “To have been there with him, seeing how the thing happened is the saddest experience I’ve had to go through.
“I was right by his side, crying, worried, praying and hoping he would be OK, that he would make it through. But he didn’t.”
Deputy County Attorney Mark Diebolt asked for a minimum 18-year sentence, calling Rumsey “a professional drunk.”
Diebolt said Rincon’s death “in all likelihood” saved Rumsey’s children, ages 10 and 12.
“He gave his life so they could live. Based on her history . . . if she didn’t kill Jose, she would have killed somebody else, if not her own children.”
Defense attorney Stephen Paul Barnard noted that Rincon’s family expressed a “lot of emotion, even some expression of hate.”
“That’s normal. That’s vengeance.
“But, you know, law here isn’t about vengeance. That’s somebody else’s job. It’s about justice.”
Rumsey’s best friend and her former employer spoke on her behalf before sentencing.
Sherry Bayomi said over the 30 years she has known Rumsey, she was a kind and generous friend.
“No one can punish Glenda more than she will punish herself for this tragedy for the rest of her life,” Bayomi said.
Attorney Jeff Katz said Rumsey was a tireless and reliable employee whom he trusted with almost every aspect of his business.
“I truly believe this is a good person, not a bad person, who did a very bad thing,” Katz said.
The most emotional testimony came from Rincon’s grandfather, parents and sisters.
Rodolfo “Rudy” Bejarano, a former city councilman, said his grandson’s death broke his heart.
“Never in my life, never at any time did I shed tears,” Bejarano said, recalling loved ones who have died.
“But since Jan. 12 at about 7:45, you may see something on my face. You would think that they are tears. They are not. What they are, judge, it’s my soul that is bleeding for my grandson.”
Jose Rincon’s father recalled the happy times that led up to his namesake son’s death.
The night before, father and son shared a night by themselves.
He recounted how the frightened family gathered when they heard that Jose had been injured.
“In trauma they call the first hour (after a patient is brought in) the golden hour,” Rincon said. “I call it 40 minutes of hell that I relive every Saturday night.”
Rincon’s voice rose when he recalled what he’d been told about Rumsey’s actions at the crash scene, including testimony from an officer that Rumsey said, “If I killed that kid, my life is over.”
“If HER life is over!” Rincon said.
“If her life is over, it’s by her own doing, not my son’s! Period!”
Adriana Rincon, Jose’s mother, described how she used to love dinnertime. She would fix dinner and listen to music with her daughters doing homework in the kitchen and Jose raiding the cupboard, despite her pleas that he shouldn’t ruin his appetite.
“Dinnertime was joyous,” she said.
“Dinnertime is now almost painful for me,” Rincon said. “My daughters do their homework elsewhere. I have no need for music. I call them all for dinner and we all sit down together as a family. The meal I have prepared has the basics, but there’s no flavor. It’s like a metaphor for my life. I’m doing everything I need to do, but I’m missing the flavor.”
Adriana Rincon said she felt some envy toward Rumsey, because she would one day be able to participate in her children’s lives.
“She gave my son the death sentence,” Rincon said. “And with that, she gave his family and friends a life sentence. And there was no chance to plead.”
Jose Rincon’s surviving siblings also addressed the court and presented a montage of videos and family photos that occasionally made the audience chuckle.
“He always protected me,” said Julissa, 8. “I wouldn’t mind that he took care of me. I wish you could have met him. You would have liked him.”
Gabriela “Gaby” Rincon, 16, was especially close to her little brother.
” ‘Guapo’ and I were always together,” she said. “We were a duo, a team, two halves to a whole.
“I lost my brother. I lost my best friend. I lost my confidant,” she said. “Now it’s just me. Your honor, I lost me. I lost my other half.
“Today, I’m asking you to fulfill your responsibility of sending Glenda Rumsey a message, sending a message out to Tucson, that not under any circumstances, drunk driving will not be tolerated and it is not OK.”
The last few hours of Jose Luis Rincon’s young life were spent with friends.
Glenda Lorraine Rumsey, then 42, spent the last few hours of Jose’s life drinking with friends at a Mexican restaurant.
Their two lives merged that evening, about a quarter past seven, on a darkened East Side street, killing one and incarcerating the other.
To read more, go to tucsoncitizen.com/ss/local/108112.php.