A 22-year-old drunk driver pleaded guilty Friday to vehicular manslaughter in a crash in Silverado that killed a teenage friend, and was immediately sentenced to six months in jail.Antonio Jesus Escamilla pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence causing bodily injury and driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or more causing bodily injury. He also admitted sentence-enhancing allegations of causing great bodily injury.
Escamilla, who accepted a plea deal from Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Fitzgerald, also will be placed on five years of formal probation, according to Deputy District Attorney Mark Birney.
“I disagreed with the court’s offer,” Birney said.
Escamilla was behind the wheel of a Honda Civic at about 1:40 a.m. on Sept. 9, 2013, when he lost control of the car while going southbound on Santiago Canyon Road, north of Silverado Canyon Road. The Honda careened into the opposite lanes of traffic, then into a dirt embankment, and rolled over several times, according to Deputy District Attorney Stephen Cornwell, who was the original prosecutor on the case.
Killed in the crash was 16-year-old Marie Johnson, who was ejected from the right rear passenger seat, Cornwell said. She was not wearing a seat belt, Birney said.
A group of other friends in another Honda Civic was traveling at speeds up to 65 to 70 mph in a 55 mph zone, Cornwell said. That car also crashed, he said, but no one was seriously hurt.
Both drivers claimed they saw a deer in the road just before the crash, Cornwell said.
Escamilla’s blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.13 percent about 90 minutes after the accident, Cornwell said. The legal limit for driving under the influence for motorists younger than 21 is 0.05.
— City News Service
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