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Drunken driver who killed Pizza Lucé employee sentenced to 4 years in prison

Julio Alvarado sentenced to 4 years in death of Pizza Lucé driver
Julio Alvarado sentenced to 4 years in death of Pizza Lucé driver 02:06

MINNEAPOLIS — A man who pleaded guilty to a drunken crash that killed a longtime Pizza Lucé delivery driver will spend four years in prison.

Julio Alvarado, 25, pleaded guilty to criminal vehicular homicide in January. On Tuesday, a judge gave him a 48-month sentence.

The crash occurred last August at West 50th Street and Lyndale Avenue South in Minneapolis. Aaron Zach, 42, was killed while on the clock for Pizza Lucé.


According to a criminal complaint, Alvarado's blood alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit. A witness estimated he was going 50 to 60 mph before the crash.

WCCO's Allen Henry was part of the only TV crew in the courtroom as both families heard the judge's decision. 

"He made the decision to start drinking. He made the decision to continue drinking. He made the ultimate decision to drive and kill Aaron," said prosecutor Grant Gunderson.

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It was emotional inside the courtroom as Zach's family asked for a harsh sentence for Alvarado, who had pleaded guilty to killing him while drunk behind the wheel and was hoping for leniency. 

"He is not defined by what happened on that horrible evening when he chose to drink and drive," said defense attorney Laura Prahl.

Zach's mother sent a victim impact statement to the court which read in part: "I want him to never forget what he has done. There is no reason people should be drinking and driving. It's not hard to call for a ride when you plan on drinking. This man is 25 years old he should have known better. Instead, he put an end to all of Aaron's plans and dreams."

Pizza Lucé

Alvarado apologized to the Zach family, saying he had been baptized and sober since the accident. 

"Losing your only son, you know, it's painful every day. So I'll take ownership of what I've done, drinking and driving, which I should have never done. There was a problem that I recognize," Alvarado said.

Judge William Koch acknowledged Alvarado's growth, but ultimately gave him a full prison sentence.

"Sir, I'm going to sentence you to prison for 48 months. I don't do that lightly," Koch said. "I think you are a more mature individual. It's just very tragic that it took a loss of life for you to achieve that maturity."

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Zach worked at Pizza Lucé's Uptown location for more than 15 years. The restaurant briefly closed while his co-workers processed the tragedy.

"Spent a long day here with…a lot of friends, lot of former co-workers, a lot of current co-workers," general manager Alex Ekland said at the time. "[Zach] considered a lot of these drivers here like brothers."  

Zach's picture adorns the cover of the pizza chain's delivery driver manual.

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