A Salem man was convicted on three counts of first-degree manslaughter and sentenced to 25 years for a collision on the Salem Parkway that resulted in the deaths of three area teens.
Juan Rodriguez-Palacios, 26, was convicted in a bench trial that ended Wednesday, May 6. Rodriguez waived his right to a jury trial in favor of a verdict rendered by Judge Thomas Hart. Hart issued a sentence of 25 years in prison Thursday, May 14, and Rodriguez-Palacios will not be eligible for early release or alternative programs during his sentence.
Rodriguez Palacios had left Tequila Nights, a Keizer bar, on the evening of June 2, 2019. He reportedly had consumed multiple beers and used marijuana and cocaine before getting behind the wheel. He ran a red light going 85 mph at the intersection of Cherry Avenue Northeast and the Salem Parkway. His vehicle collided with a Toyota Camry carrying three teens – Trinity Watt, 19, of Salem, Madison Capobianco, 19, of Salem, and Makayla Tryon, 18, of Keizer – killing all of them.
Rodriguez-Palacios was also convicted of driving under the influence and two counts of third-degree assault. His blood-alcohol level after the accident was .15, nearly twice the legal limit.
Video played during closing arguments showed Palacios being questioned by a member of the Salem Police Department. Prior to the start of the questioning, Palacios was unaware the three girls had been killed as a result of the accident. Once he was informed of the deaths, he put his head on the table and wept. When officers left the room, he continued to sob and began praying.
Rodriguez-Palacios has been previously convicted of reckless driving and failure to perform the duties of a driver when property was damaged in 2015. In that incident, Rodriguez-Palacios hit a trailer – while driving with a blood-alcohol level of .17 – and fled the scene.
Three charges of recklessly endangering others and driving under the influence were dropped after he completed a diversionary program.