A California woman who drove drunk for a nearly a mile with a homeless man in her windshield after she struck him has been convicted of murder.
After just a day of deliberation, a jury on Friday found Esteysi “Stacy” Sanchez, 31, guilty of second-degree murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and hit-and-run in connection with the June 2016 crash that took the life of Jack Ray Tenhulzen.
Police said Tenhulzen, 69, was walking on a sidewalk leaving a soup kitchen on June 27 when Sanchez crashed into him near the state Route 76 bridge. The impact was so strong that it ripped Tenhulzen out of his clothing and severed his leg as he smashed through the windshield. He was killed instantly, but his body remained lodged in Sanchez's windshield as she kept driving until she arrived home.
When Sanchez arrived at her Oceanside home, her husband called police and Tenhulzen was pronounced dead at the scene. Sanchez was taken into custody, where police said her blood-alcohol content was between .18 and .19 percent, which is more than twice the legal limit of .08 percent. Shards of glass were still in her hair as she was booked for the crash, according to CW San Diego.
During the trial, Deputy District Attorney of San Diego Robert Bruce told the jury Sanchez had been drinking all night before the crash. Her defense attorney Herb Weston blamed tiredness, not alcohol. He maintained that she fell asleep at the wheel and that after she struck the victim, and kept driving because she was scared, according to KUSI in San Diego.
Sanchez, who is suspected of being an illegal immigrant, faces up to a life sentence. She will be sentenced May 31.
Sanchez had no prior convictions for drunk driving. Bruce argued that Sanchez's crash counted as murder because her friends had warned her that night not to drive.
"I think this sends a message that if you are warned not to drink and drive, and you drink and drive anyway, you may be found guilty of murder," he said after the verdict arrived.
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