Woman sentenced to 15 years in death of local surgeon during hit-and-run

SAN ANTONIO — “You had a cracked windshield from the impact of my husband‘s body. You had my husband‘s blood splattered on your white BMW,” said Sandra Vasquez Kayruz , widow. “A compassionate person a reasonable person would have stopped but you did not.”

Heartbreaking statements made from the family of a prominent San Antonio surgeon to the woman who killed him during a drunk driving crash in February of 2019.

Melissa Peoples was sentenced to 15 years in prison after hitting Dr. Naji Kayruz while he was riding a bike near the Dominion.

Our Joe Galli is here for you from the courthouse after speaking with the family. Do they believe justice was served?

No. They don’t.

Part of the plea agreement removed a deadly weapons charge which allows peoples to be eligible for parole in three years and nine months.

And the family believes that is far from justice.

Placed in handcuffs and shackles Melissa Peoples is going to prison after killing Dr. Naji Kayruz.

His widow, son and twin brother read heart wrenching statements before Peoples was taken away.

“My husband never drank a drop of alcohol except for the wine offered at mass,” said his widow. “He saved lives and you took a life. He would’ve stopped and rendered aid and you left the scene and tortured us for three years until the deadline of a plea bargain.”

Dr. Kayruz was a prominent San Antonio surgeon.

Born in Lebanon he escaped religious persecution for his Christian beliefs before coming to the United States, starting his medical career and his family.

“I will never live life with the innocence enjoy that I used to. I have seen darkness and suffered pain and I mourn for who I used to be,” said Anthony Kayruz, son.

I spoke to the family after the sentencing about the fact that Peoples could be out in less than 4 years despite the 15 year sentence.

“This is not a fair sentence this is not justice for us so don’t be fooled by that,” said his widow, Sandra Vasquez Kayruz.

“For god sake she was a repeat offender. When does this carnage stop,” said Walid Keyrouz, brother.

It’s been 1044 days sense Dr. Kayruz was killed.

The family says not only are they still in mourning and will be for the rest of their lives.

“This community should be in raged with Melissa Peoples because if you need surgery and you need someone like my husband to operate there is no one like that right now they are in training she took from us someone of great value,” said his widow, Sandra.

Peoples did offer an apology to the family during a previous interview but the family tells me they think the apology was insincere, and the best way she should seek forgiveness is by serving the full 15 years behind bars.

“This was not an accident. It was a crime,” said Sandra. “You knew that you should not drink and drive. You personally knew that drinking and driving could cause the death of or serious injury.”

During the statements, the family did ask Peoples to serve her entire 15 year sentence. An initial charge for the use of a deadly weapon was dropped as part of the plea agreement, so Peoples will be eligible for parole in less than four years.

Because of that, the family believes they really have not gotten justice. They also said this is a reminder for anyone about the heartbreak that can happen anytime someone gets behind the wheel while they’re intoxicated.

The widow of Dr. Kayruz, Sandra Kayruz, shared the following statement on Facebook following People’s plea deal:

A sentence of 15 years with the possibility of parole after serving less than 4 years in prison for the crime that was committed is a letdown to me and my family. I feel numb. The reality is that no length of sentence will bring my husband back or ever feel like justice, but in my opinion a better plea bargain could have been negotiated or it should have gone to trial given the incredible amount of evidence against her. I ask for your continued support in the future when she comes up for parole, and every year after that when the parole board meets. No one is immune to tragedy or unfair outcomes. We need each other.

Written by Joe Galli

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