Cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels reports that Shawn Fields unexpectedly changed his plea to guilty last week, and has been sentenced in the death of 17-year old Kennedy High School student Danny Marin.
The collision occurred on Laurel Canyon Blvd in Pacoima about 2 am on October 2nd of last year — exactly one year ago this weekend. Fields was allegedly drunk when he hit Marin, then drove home after initially stopping at the scene; police found him inside his home, sleeping on the couch.
In what was apparently a last ditch effort, Fields’ attorney attempted to have the evidence suppressed last month — including the results of Fields’ blood alcohol test — arguing that the arresting officers did not have a warrant when they entered his home, after he failed to respond when they knocked. The judge rejected that motion, ruling that the police had probable cause to arrest Fields and that there were exigent circumstances that negated the need for a warrant.
The prosecutor handling the case told Wheels that Fields pled guilty to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and admitted to the special allegation that he fled the scene of Marin’s death.
He received a sentence of 7 years in state prison; with good behavior and the current prison overcrowding crisis, he can be expected to serve roughly half of that. Or less.
But at least Danny got the justice his death demanded.
In other legal news, Wheels also offers the full details on the plea bargain accepted by Jaclyn Andrea Garcia for the allegedly drunken collision that nearly took the life of cyclist Adam Rybicki last April.
Rybicky was participating in a weekly, informal group ride known as the Doctor’s Ride shortly after 7 am on Sunday, April 3rd, when Garcia’s car headed straight towards the group on the wrong side of the road.
In the mad scramble to get out of her way, Rybicki was hit head-on, and another rider was injured when he was hit by the fender of Garcia’s car. Rybicki survived, in part, because an orthopedic surgeon happened to be on the ride that day.
Reports from observers at the scene suggest that Garcia and her companions seemed emotionless and unconcerned about the carnage they had caused; maybe because it was far from her first infraction. While Garcia denied it, many people who were on the ride that day have severely criticized the apparent lack of responsibility in the letter she wrote to the court.
Rybicki remains intubated in a rehabilitation facility; while he’s lost the sight in one eye, he is able to communicate using a white board. He reportedly continues to improve, but faces a very long road back to be anything close to the man he was before.
As reported here before, the plea deal will result in just one year in county jail for Garcia. However, Wheels reports that there are more conditions to her sentencing.
She was initially sentenced to three years in state prison, the maximum term allowed for violating CVC 23153(a), which prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs causing injury.
However, the sentence was suspended and she was placed on five years probation. As noted, she will be required to spend 365 days in county jail; the judge specifically barred serving her time on house arrest. Other conditions include court fines and acknowledging that she’s agreed to a first strike under the three strikes law.
She’s also required to abstain from drug or alcohol use, enroll in a 3-month DUI class, wear a Lindsey Lohan-style SCRAM device for one year to detect alcohol use, submit to random drug testing, and install an ignition interlock device on her car.
How about just revoking her drivers license?
In addition, she will have to participate in the HAM/morgue program, seek and maintain employment approved by a probation officer, and agree to submit to searches by probation or other officers without probable cause.
A restitution hearing is scheduled for November 17th, and she’s scheduled to surrender for incarceration on October 6th.
While I think most of us would have preferred more jail time, it is a tough sentence in other respects. And if she violates the terms or commits another offense, she has that suspended prison sentence hanging over her head.
Personally, I wouldn’t bet on her making it through probation without screwing up.