SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An ex-Marine who crashed her station wagon on a freeway interchange after a night of drinking and dancing in the Gaslamp Quarter, killing a fellow Marine and seriously injuring another friend, pleaded guilty Tuesday to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
Ashley Louise Maya -- who has no prior criminal record -- also pleaded guilty to DUI causing serious bodily injury and will be sentenced to a year in jail on Sept. 12.
Her sentence also includes a suspended prison term of seven years and eight months, which could be imposed should she violate the terms of her probation.
Maya, 22, was recently discharged from the Marine Corps, according to prosecutor Jim Waters.
"All of the parties knew one another, they were all friends, and they knew the history of their drinking on that particular night and they chose to get in the car and make an effort to get home," Waters said outside the courtroom.
Testifying at the defendant's preliminary hearing in June, California Highway Patrol Officer Brad Clinkscales said surveillance video at a San Diego nightclub showed Maya drinking alcohol hours before the fatal crash, which happened about 3:15 a.m. last Feb. 12.
According to testimony, Maya's friend, Cpl. Pedro Conceicao, took away her car keys as they left the club, but she punched him three times and got them back. Both Conceicao and Maya were stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.
Waters said Maya drove off with a car door open before coming back to pick up two other passengers.
Once on northbound state Route 163, front-seat passenger Bryan Salcido said he yelled at Maya twice to slow down.
He testified that Maya was traveling about 90 mph when she tried to negotiate a sharp turn onto eastbound Interstate 8 and lost control of her 2007 Chevrolet HHR, which rolled over, ejecting back-seat passengers Conceicao and Vasty Castillo.
Conceicao, 24, died at the scene and Castillo, 25, suffered a broken back and other serious injuries. Neither was wearing a seatbelt.
Salcido was not seriously injured in the crash. Maya had to be hospitalized and was booked into jail two days after the accident.
A CHP investigator said a vehicle would have to be travelling at speeds less than 64 mph to negotiate the sharp freeway transition. A posted sign warns drivers to slow to 35 mph in the area, according to the CHP.
Waters said the defendant's blood-alcohol level was .11 percent at the time of the accident.
He said Maya has expressed extreme remorse for the crash that took the life of a good friend.
"When police arrived at the scene, she was cradling the head of the deceased, and at that time police thought she was seriously injured because there was so much blood on her blouse. In fact, it was the decedent's blood," Waters said.
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