MARTINEZ — In a courtroom setting that resembled the atmosphere of a funeral Friday afternoon, a woman who drove drunk and caused a head-on collision last year, killing a 45-year-old man and his infant daughter, was sentenced to just shy of 15 years in state prison.
Jessica Ann Martin, 36, was sentenced in exchange for pleading no contest to two gross vehicular manslaughter counts, as well as drunk driving and other charges related to the October 2018 crash. Martin had been charged with two counts of murder, and faced at least 30 years to life if convicted of those.
Before she was formally sentenced, Martin heard from several family members of Hector Garza, 45, and his 8-month-old daughter, Camilla Rose Garza, both victims of the crash. Camilla survived the initial wreck, but died from her injuries days later. Her father was killed almost instantly.
“My baby and husband are gone forever,” Hectors widow, Kirsten Garza, wrote in a statement that was read aloud by a family member. She added: “I will never see my baby grow up, going to school, going to college, getting married…(Hector) was my husband, my best friend, my protector.”
Martin spoke as well during Fridays hearing, sobbing as she apologized for the crash. She said its difficult for her to look in a mirror, knowing what she did.
“I wake up every morning wishing I could turn back the clock,” Martin said, later adding, “I cannot imagine the pain, sorrow, and suffering youve experienced, and Im so, so sorry.”
The crash took place around 6:40 p.m. on Oct. 25. Martin was driving south at the South Broadway extension from southbound Interstate 680 when she crashed head-on into one car and “virtually head-on” with two more that were going north, authorities said. She was allegedly driving from a bar where shed ordered multiple drinks.
In addition to killing Hector and Camilla, the crash injured four others. Two of the men injured spoke Friday, saying they continued to suffer physical and mental anguish from the crash, including survivors guilt and anxiety over driving a car.
The change of plea
The courtroom was packed with family members of Hector and Camilla. Before the terms of the plea deal were entered into the record, tissues were passed around and those in attendance were warned not to speak directly to the defendant.
A court staff member turned on a slideshow of Hector and Camilla, which played on a loop throughout the hearing.
As it became time for Judge Patricia Scanlon to call the case, the gallery fell silent. The silence was filled with a sudden wail that emanated from the courtroom holding cell, where Martin sat alone, and lasted several seconds.
After the terms of the plea deal were set, it was time for loved ones to speak.
“(Martin) didnt only destroy the lives of my son and granddaughter, she also destroyed the lives of each and every family member,” said Mariana Garza, Hectors mother. “There is great sadness in our family due to the loss of our beloved son and princess.”
Hectors sister, Sandra Abeyta, wrote a statement that was read by a victims advocate, saying her family had Read More – Source