News is just coming in that Wendy Villegas has been convicted in the hit-and-run death of cyclist Luis “Andy” Garcia.
According to Danny Gamboa, Villegas changed her plea to no contest for the September 14th collision that took the life of Garcia, and left two other riders seriously injured.
Gamboa reports she accepted a plea bargain of three years and eight months in prison for felony hit-and-run and DUI. That represents a gift from the DA’s office, as she had been facing a minimum of five to seven years for vehicular manslaughter, DUI and felony hit-and-run, with a maximum of 10 to 15 years.
In other words, she was sentenced to just 20% of what she could have faced.
Garcia was riding with Ule Melgar, Mario Lopez and two other riders on the LA River Bridge on Cesar Chavez Avenue near Mission Road at 2:45 am on Saturday, September 14th, when they were hit from behind with no warning by Villegas’ car.
She proceeded to drive home, dragging Garcia’s bike several hundred feet beneath her car according to LA Streetsblog. She was reportedly still drunk when she was taken into custody several hours later.
Meanwhile, her victims remained where they’d fallen. Lopez had been tossed into the air, breaking his back and leg; Melgar was nearly knocked over the guardrail and into the LA River below.
Garcia was left lying in the roadway, where he was run over by a second vehicle. Whether he could have survived the initial impact had Villegas stopped as the law requires will never be known.
Many reports suggested that the 21-year old Villegas never seemed to grasp the seriousness of her actions, as exemplified by this courtroom incident reported by Sahra Sulaiman in the Streetsblog story above.
So, when she and her lawyer complained that wearing an ankle bracelet that would monitor both alcohol intake and movement would be inconvenient to a young, working student as well as a challenge for her to pair it properly with the variety of shoes she wears, Lopez couldn’t take it any more.
“I thought to myself at that moment, ‘Well, what about Andy?’” he wrote. “‘[Andy] was a full time student in college. He had responsibilities. But yet, he can’t and will never be able to fulfill them…And she is worried about her fashion sense! What about the inconvenience she brought upon his family and friends?’”
He finally yelled out, “But she killed someone!”
Maybe a few years in state prison will succeed in driving that home.
Update: KTLA-5 reports that Villegas is scheduled for sentencing on April 22nd. Not surprisingly, the story notes that many of the cyclists in the courtroom were unhappy with the minimal sentence, and the Garcia’s mother was repulsed by Villegas lack of remorse.