Woman Who Triggered Road Rage Shooting Gets Probation, Rehab - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Woman Who Triggered Road Rage Shooting Gets Probation, Rehab

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An Oceanside woman who triggered a road rage dispute that ended with her and her 8-year-old son being shot by an off-duty policeman was sentenced today to probation and told to remain in a residential substance abuse treatment program.

Rachel Leann Silva, 29, pleaded guilty last November to felony child endangerment and misdemeanor DUI charges stemming from the March 15, 2008, run-in that ended at the Old Grove Shopping Center in Oceanside.

Judge David Danielsen said it would have been easy to send Silva to prison for four years, had she not taken the step of enrolling in the residential treatment program 14 months ago.

Silva -- who had two prior DUI convictions -- had gone "completely out of control" in the year leading up to the confrontation with off-duty San Diego police Officer Frank White, the judge said.

Danielsen gave the defendant credit for 256 days in the treatment program, calling it "no small feat."

The judge imposed but suspended the four-year prison sentence pending successful completion of five years probation.

"After 256 days in the right direction, I don't think prison has anything to offer at this time," Danielsen said.

Defense attorney Michael Pancer said Silva is working toward reunification with her two young sons and is a "changed person" since the events 17 months ago.

"She feels God gave her the second chance, and she's not going to waste it," Pancer told the court.

The attorney said Silva's mother was a substance abuser and the defendant never knew her father, who was a prison inmate.

Silva was placed in group and foster homes at a young age when her mother didn't provide for her, Pancer said. He said Silva started drinking at age 11, abused drugs and developed anger issues.

"She was a hostile, angry person and she's just not that way anymore," Pancer told the judge. "She loves being sober for a long period of time."

Supervising Deputy Attorney General Jim Dutton told the judge that based on Silva's actions and "dismal" performance on probation, she should go to prison or get a year in jail.

"She was the cause of all this," Dutton told the judge, though he said he had "no doubt" she was remorseful.

Silva had been involved in a 2003 road rage incident in which she cut off a 17-year-old motorist and threw a soft drink on her before punching her in the nose, Dutton said.

White's wife, who was in the car the night Silva drove her car toward theirs, told the judge she is haunted by what the defendant did that night.

"We are victims of this defendant and her actions," Jacquellyn White said.

She said she has nightmares, breaks out in cold sweats, can't eat and suffers from depression.

"I often wonder, is it safe to leave my own home today?" she told the judge.

White said she also resigned from her job as a dispatcher for the Carlsbad Police Department.

"I am changed forever," she said. "I am not and never will be the same person I used to be. I still don't understand. I will never understand."

She said she started to ask why someone would "want to take me away from my own two boys."

Her husband was prosecuted by the District Attorney's Office, which alleged he fired his gun in a negligent manner, but was acquitted after a jury trial in Vista.

Silva and her son Johnny were wounded by White at the Old Grove Shopping Center in Oceanside, a few blocks from her home.

Dutton said Silva had a blood-alcohol level of .15 percent two hours after she pulled out of a gas station driveway about 9 p.m. and into the path of the Whites' car as they headed to a grocery store.

The officer had to swerve to avoid Silva's car, and she tailgated him, revved her car's engine, screeched thee tires and accelerated and braked at the last moment in the parking lot.

Police said Silva then pulled up alongside the couple's car while shouting and sideswiped their vehicle, prompting the officer to fire his gun five times.

Silva was struck by two bullets in the arm and her son was hit in the knee.

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