A teenager who could have spent the rest of his life in prison for killing three valet workers in an October 2021 crash as he sped away from police could be free in five years.
18-year-old Ahmedaltayeb Modawi will be eligible for parole after serving half of his 10-year sentence, which was handed down Friday by Harris County Criminal District Court Judge Chris Morton.
“That’s like a slap,” one of the young victim’s mothers, Rose Orduna, told KPRC 2. “I didn’t even know whether to be angry, to cry. I was in shock.”
Orduna’s 22-year-old son Eric, 18-year-old Fnan Measho, and 23-year-old Nick Rodriguez, all valet workers, died Oct. 1, 2021 when Modawi, also a valet worker, crashed into them near the intersection of Richmond Avenue and Fairdale Lane.
The four young men worked on the same street. Modawi worked as a valet at a café and the three victims worked as valet at a sports bar across the street. After parking a car while walking back to the bar, they were struck by Modawi.
Modawi crashed into them while driving a customer’s Infiniti sedan recklessly and speeding away from police at around 100 miles an hour. He had been doing donuts in a nearby parking lot when police started pursuing him.
The crash impact was so brutal that investigators found body parts on a nearby roof as well as hair and teeth on the windshield.
Modawi, age 17 at the time of the crash, had no criminal history. He pled guilty to all three murder charges earlier this year. Prosecutors wanted a 35-year sentence.
Rose Orduno and family attended the sentencing hearing Friday, wearing three ribbons for each victim, as Judge Chris Morton appeared emotional while considering the sentence.
During the hearing, Morton revealed that his son was recently involved in a crash.
“We thought that was ... going to change his opinion on the sentence for this guy,” Orduna said. “It didn’t change anything.”
The sentence for each murder charge was 10 years but Modawi will be able to serve them concurrently. Out on bond, he was taken into custody after Friday’s sentencing and will await transfer to a state prison from the Harris County Jail.
“There was going to be no good outcomes at the end of this, no matter how it panned out,” defense attorney John Floyd said. “Once he’s out of prison, he’ll have to live with this the rest of his life. And I know that this is something he’ll never forget.”
A civil lawsuit in the matter is still pending against the valet company and other liable parties, Floyd said. Modawi has also been interviewed by the U.S. Department of Labor about potential labor violations.
Under City of Houston ordinance, a valet worker has to be 18 or older.
“His employment was illegal. He should have not been in that position,” Floyd said. “As of today, there have been no adults held accountable for that part of this tragedy.”
But now living without her son forever, Rose Orduna will always wonder how the 10-year sentence is justice.
“I never thought I would lose my son,” she said. “Just want the judge to know really, that I don’t know why he would do that.”