There’s a ‘hole in my heart,’ Nipomo woman says at DUI sentencing of man who killed husband

Family members of a beloved Nipomo community member killed in a DUI-related crash shared their grief with the court Thursday during the sentencing hearing for the Arroyo Grande man convicted of manslaughter.

Aleksandr Moiseyev, 29, was handed down a six-year sentence in state prison Thursday after accepting a plea deal from prosecutors for felony gross vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence of methamphetamine.

On July 8 in Nipomo, Moiseyev collided head-on with a vehicle driven by 57-year-old Jose Soto Gonzales, who was leaving for work at his dishwasher job at Willow restaurant.

Gonzales’ wife of 32 years, Arlene Gonzales, a Santa Maria physician who practices family medicine, spoke at the hearing in front of Judge Dodie Harman, saying her husband was a rock in the family who brought joy and three children to her life.

AG Dui Sentencing017
Aleksandr Moiseyev, 28, of Halcyon listens to defense attorney Jim Murphy before Judge Dodie Harman hands down the sentence in Moiseyev’s DUI manslaughter case. Moiseyev was sentenced to six years in prison for the crash that killed 57-year-old Jose Soto Gonzales in Nipomo. Laura Dickinson

Wife expresses grief for husband’s loss

His death has left a hole of emptiness and loneliness, making it a struggle to get out of bed each day, Arlene Gonzales said.

“He used to talk nonstop and send texts and emojis, things to brighten my day and make me happy,” she said. “On weekends, we’d have brunch together and he’d find movies he knew I loved. ... I’m now lonely at the age of 60. The house is quiet. Now, there is a hole in my heart.”

Gonzales said they planned vacations for after retirement and had a family trip to France scheduled for her 60th birthday, saying she’d long dreamed about the trip with her husband.

Her husband was the glue to the extended family and often reached out to relatives and their children to connect, taking the lead on behalf of the two of them. He also knew a lot of people in the community, who have expressed support.

“Jose took care of me,” Gonzales said. “He cooked every day. He helped me in my business.”

Arlene Gonzales said that Moiseyev wrote an apology letter that left her saddened and angry.

“And I’ll explain why,” she said in court. “The defendant didn’t respect my husband’s life. And in his apology letter, he didn’t even spell the name right of the man he killed.”

During the hearing Thursday, Moiseyev kept his head down and spoke softly as he waived his right to attend a restitution hearing on Jan. 27.

DUI Sentencing Keyframe
“He wasn’t just my father, he was my best friend,” daughter Jessica Soto said of Jose Soto Gonzales, who died in a head-on crash caused by a DUI driver in July. With her is her mother, Arlene Gonzales, and brother Anthony Gonzales. Laura Dickinson

Daughter says her father was her biggest supporter

Arlene and Jose raised three grown children together, and their 26-year-old daughter Jessica also spoke at the hearing.

Jessica, who lives in San Diego, is applying to medical school.

“My dad could make you feel special,” Jessica Gonzales said. “I plan to become a doctor, and he supported every new endeavor. It kills me that he’ll never see me go beyond where I am right now in my life. He’ll never see me go to medical school or meet his grandkids.”

Jessica Gonzales said she wishes she could go back to the five minutes before her brother delivered the tragic news, when the biggest problems in her life were “boys and imperfect grades.”

Moiseyev entered into a plea agreement at his third arraignment appearance in August, pleading no contest to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in exchange for the dismissal of the DUI charge.

On Thursday, the sentence was upped from a previous tentative agreement of four years in prison after a discussion between the prosecution and defense before the hearing.

Arlene Gonzales said her daughter urged the prosecution to increase the sentence.

Anthony Gonzales writes software for the military; Jose C. Gonzales served in the United States Army for four years followed by two years in the Army Reserves.

A head-on, drug-fueled crash caused the tragedy

Moiseyev was driving a gray Honda HR-V crossover eastbound on Pomeroy Road west of Sandydale Drive just after 4 p.m. July 8, according to the CHP.

As he rounded a curve in the road, Moiseyev crossed over the double yellow lines into the westbound lane of Pomeroy Road, where Gonzales was heading west. Gonzales wasn’t able to avoid the oncoming Honda, and the vehicles collided.

Gonzales was pronounced dead at the scene.

Moiseyev was seriously injured and taken to Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria. He tested positive for methamphetamine, according to DA’s Office.

Moiseyev, who lives in the Halcyon area of Arroyo Grande, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and gross vehicular manslaughter.

“To say we are heartbroken is the biggest understatement,” Jessica Gonzales said. “He was an extraordinary human with a lovely soul.”

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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.