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DUI Leads to Vehicular Manslaughter

car crash

A woman with a long DUI history and run-ins with the law now faces murder charges after she allegedly drove drunk and crashed into a pedestrian, then drove another two miles with the man stuck in the windshield of her SUV, the reported.

Phillip Moreno was crossing Torrance Boulevard near Madrid Avenue in Torrance, Cal., when Sherri Lynn Wilkins plowed her Toyota SUV into Moreno with such force that the impact knocked Moreno’s pants off and lodged him in the vehicle’s windshield, according to police. Wilkins continued weaving through traffic in Torrance for another two miles, with the dying man still stuck in her windshield.

According to official statements, Wilkins only stopped when witnesses ran after her vehicle, and persuaded her to pull over. Moreno was still alive when medical help arrived, but died later a hospital. Authorities also told the Daily Breeze that Wilkins, who worked as a drug/alcohol addiction counselor at a treatment center in Torrance, registered a blood-alcohol level that was approximately twice the legal limit.

“People witnessed her driving off, swerving,” Sylvia Moreno, the victim’s sister, stated. “It looked like she was trying to shake him off. What she did was inhumane. She wanted to leave him like a dead dog on the street.”

Wilkins already had a long rap sheet, with stints in and out of jail spanning from 1989 to 2008, all related to theft and drugs. The treatment center’s administrators said that Wilkins had long battled alcohol and heroin addictions, but that they believed her to have been sober since 2004.

The woman had a previous vehicular incident when, in 2010, she slammed into a light pole, then drove away. Police tracked her to her home and arrested her for DUI. However, test results showed no alcohol and almost no narcotic drugs in her system, so authorities dropped the DUI charge. Currently, the driver faces charges for murder, gross vehicular manslaughter, DUI and leaving the scene of an accident.

A similar, though less gruesome, incident also occurred in Santa Rosa when a driver struck a pedestrian near the intersection of Guerneville Road and Coffey Lane, then sped away from the scene, KGO TV reported. The victim survived, but was in critical condition in a local hospital with life-threatening injuries. Officers tracked down the driver, Christian Pena Ballesteros, who was already on probation for a previous DUI conviction, according to Sgt. Rich Celli of the Santa Rosa Police Department. Ballesteros now faces new charges of felony hit-and-run, DUI and probation violation.

Drivers owe it to themselves, and the people they injure, not to compound the problem of striking a pedestrian by fleeing the scene of the incident. Drivers in Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino Counties should take note that hit-and-run can be a felony in California. Regardless of the specifics, any time you’re charged with causing an accident due to driving drunk, it is a serious matter, and you should consult capable DUI attorneys. Our Santa Rosa DUI attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced at handling all types of cases where DUI is an issue, and can help you decide the best path to defending yourself. You can contact our Santa Rosa DUI Attorney office at 707-576-7175 to arrange for a free and confidential DUI consultation.

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