Drunken driver fights back tears at sentencing. Defendant drank before she got behind the wheel and drove the wrong way on the 55 Freeway.
By LARRY WELBORN
The Orange County Register
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SANTA ANA – A single mother of two fought back tears, apologized and asked for forgiveness moments before she was sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison today for causing the death of a college student in a drunken, wrong-way crash on the 55 freeway in November 2007.
DUI Victim Pauline Samantha Portes
Superior Court Judge Gary S. Paer called the Nov. 30, 2007 death of Pauline Samantha Portes, 19, "a complete disaster for all involved" before he sentenced Yanira Ramirez, 28, of Fontana, to nine years and eight months in prison for vehicular manslaughter.
Paer said his sentencing decision was a tough one, especially after he heard poignant victim-impact statements from several of Portes' family and friends who packed the gallery of the 10th floor courtroom.
"I never knew how hard it was for a mother to lose a child until it happened to me," wept Teresa Angeles, the victim's mother. "It seems like a part of me was broken and I don't know how I could mend it back."
Pauline Portes, who was called Sam by her family and friends, was killed when the small pickup truck in which she was a passenger was hit head-on on the 55 freeway in Orange near the Lincoln Avenue off-ramp by a sedan driven by Ramirez in the early morning hours of Nov. 30, 2007. Steven Nguyen, her boyfriend, the driver of the pickup, was injured.
Authorities could not determine how Ramirez ended up driving the wrong way on the freeway.
Ramirez told Paer she does not remember the collision or what led up to it, but even so she acknowledged that she cannot justify her actions.
She admitted to investigators to drinking four Crown Royal and colas, two Patron tequila shots and three Jagermeister "bombs" earlier in the evening at the Cheesecake Factory and Tia Juana's bar in Irvine, according to police reports.
She was raising two children, 9 and 5, and did not have a prior record for driving under the influence.
Deputy District Attorney Jason Baez called Portes' death an "aggravated case" caused by the grossly negligent driving of the defendant.
Baez asked for the maximum sentence of 13 years, eight months.
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