15-to-life for repeat DUI offender who struck mother of three ne - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

15-to-life for repeat DUI offender who struck mother of three near Cowles Mountain

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Joshua Daniel Taylor sentenced to 15 years to life. Joshua Daniel Taylor sentenced to 15 years to life.
Photo of Rocio Leamon with her husband and three children. Photo of Rocio Leamon with her husband and three children.

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A repeat DUI offender who drove drunk and killed a mother of three who was out for a walk in the Lake Murray/San Carlos area last summer was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years to life in state prison.

Joshua Daniel Taylor, 39, pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder in the Aug. 13 death of Rocio Leamon.

Victor Leamon told Judge Michael Groch that his 38-year-old wife was an "incredible friend'' and "truly an amazing woman."

"Rocio's murder has turned our family upside-down," he said.

The widower said his wife, just before her death, had reconciled with her father after many years of estrangement.

He said more awareness is needed about the dangers of drinking and driving.

Alexander Leamon, at 19 the oldest of Rocio Leamon's three sons, told the defendant: "You took a lot from my family."

He said he felt sorry for Taylor and his family and that he forgave him. "I would really just want my mom back, but I'll never get her back."

Taylor, who had prior DUI convictions from 1996 and 2000, apologized to the victim's family and said he would never be able to forgive himself.

"It was an accident that ruined two good families," Taylor said.

San Diego police Officer Jason Costanza testified in December that Taylor showed signs of impairment when he spoke with the motorist on the side of the road after the 6:20 p.m. collision that took the victim's life.

A witness saw Taylor throw something in the bushes following the collision, and a bottle of vodka was recovered, Costanza testified.

Deputy District Attorney Steven Schott said the defendant's blood-alcohol level was measured at more than three times the legal limit.

"When he went out there that day, he drove with a blood-alcohol level of a .25 to a .27 (percent), ran through that intersection, crushed and killed Ms. Leamon," Schott said.

"He was in a different position than most people in society," the prosecutor added. "He'd been through the system, convicted twice. He knew how dangerous it was to do what he did, and he did it anyway."

After Taylor was arrested, he told Costanza that he had been arrested for DUI before and had completed an 18-month class regarding the dangers of drinking and driving, the officer said.

Asked if he knew the dangers of drinking and driving, Taylor replied, "It's common sense,'' according to the officer. Schott said Leamon was walking to Cowles Mountain on Aug. 13 when she stopped at the intersection of Navajo Road and Golfcrest Drive and pushed the button to wait for the walk sign.

Fifteen seconds after the victim entered the intersection, Taylor drove through against a red light, going between 44-59 mph in a 50 mph zone, striking Leamon and carrying her 57 feet before she landed face-down on the pavement, the prosecutor said. She was pronounced dead 30 minutes later.

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