Suspect charged in state trooper death, as victim's hometown says goodbye

As Trooper First Class Aaron Pelletier's neighbors mourned, court officials revealed that the suspect has a long criminal history – including murder and attempted homicide charges.

John Craven

May 31, 2024, 4:01 PM

Updated 11 days ago

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Hundreds of fellow law enforcement officers escorted Connecticut state trooper's body to his hometown of Southington Friday, one day after was he struck and killed during a traffic stop along Interstate 84.
As Trooper First Class Aaron Pelletier's neighbors mourned, court officials revealed that the suspect has a long criminal history – including murder and attempted homicide charges.
FINAL RIDE HOME
Police officers from across Connecticut led a 15-mile processional from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Farmington to Della Vecchia Funeral Home in Southington just after 12 p.m. There were hundreds of TFC Pelletier's neighbors greeting them, many saluting and waving American flags.
"It's a respect thing," Theresa Tatro said, as she wiped away tears. "I feel sorry for his wife and his kids. And, of course, him."
Many of the mourners didn't even know the trooper personally, but felt compelled to pay their respects.
"It's a very good town and it's very well respected, and people care for one another," said Bob Keith, of Southington.
SUSPECT HAS LONG RAP SHEET
Just a few miles from the funeral home, a judge formally charged the driver accused of killing TFC Pelletier. Alex Oyola-Sanchez, 44, has an extensive rap sheet, according to a state bail commissioner report.
Investigators say Oyola-Sanchez admitted taking fentanyl before he sideswiped Pelletier's police cruiser, hit the trooper and then drove away. The suspect's car finally stopped five miles away when it broke down.
Oyola-Sanchez is charged with second-degree manslaughter, driving under the influence and several other offenses. The suspect has a long criminal history in his native Puerto Rico – including third-degree murder, homicide and attempted homicide, as well as weapons and drug charges.
Judge Maureen Keegan set a $1.5 million bond. Oyola-Sanchez's public defender said he earns $300 as a housekeeper, and is unable to bail out of jail.
"The defendant, based on these arrests, has demonstrated that he is a safety risk to other people," she said.
Oyola-Sanchez, who barely opened his eyes during the 13-minute proceeding, was arraigned virtually from a hospital room. It's unclear why he is hospitalized.
ROAD SAFETY CONCERNS
The crash left many mourners worried for their own safety, as traffic deaths hit record levels in Connecticut.
"You're trying to do the right thing and you're following the rules, but somebody else is not," said Aarthi Sridher. "And it's through no fault of yours."
Funeral arrangements for Trooper Pelletier are not set yet, according to the funeral home.


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