A killing in a truck on an Indiana highway finally reached its resolution after nearly three years. Pavel Nery-Gonzalez was convicted of the murder of his trucking partner, Angel Cruz, in May. Judge Gregory Horn sentenced him to 55 years in prison on Thursday.
The story of the killing is still disputed to some degree. However, certain facts are clear. The two men were both Miami residents and driving for a Florida-based trucking company. On a route from Chino, CA to the Bronx, the men got into a dispute while on I-70 about an hour east of Indianapolis. Nery-Gonzalez stabbed Cruz, who was driving, multiple times. The truck then pulled over to the side of the road with its hazard lights on.
When police responded to a report about a semi-truck idling on the side of the Interstate, they encountered a grisly scene. Nery-Gonzalez left the cab, handed the officers a bloody knife, and said, “I stabbed him.” Cruz was taken to a Dayton, OH hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds within a few days.
Police arrested Nery-Gonzalez immediately and charged him with third-degree battery. After Cruz died, Wayne County prosecutors added a murder charge to Nery-Gonzalez’s case. Judge Horn removed the battery charge at the defense’s request.
Indiana prosecutors wanted a longer sentence in the truck killing
Judge Horn’s sentence reflects the Indiana standard for murder cases. In Indiana, those convicted of murder may receive a sentence ranging from 45 to 65 years, depending on the judge’s discretion. 55 years is the standard sentence with no mitigating or aggravating factors.
The defense argued throughout the trial that Nery-Gonzalez acted in self-defense. According to their arguments, Cruz attacked Nery-Gonzalez first, prompting the latter to attempt to defend himself. In light of this, they asked for the minimum 45-year sentence.
The prosecution, however, argued for a longer sentence. They argued that Cruz was driving the semi-truck at the time and therefore could not have attacked Nery-Gonzalez first. As a result, they pushed for a slightly aggravated 58-year sentence. Surely, the 55-year sentence will satisfy the prosecution’s desire to see Nery-Gonzalez locked up for a long time.