- Elva drove drunk to Santa Barbara after she killed Rachel
- Elva drove on a suspended license after she killed Rachel
- She had a “princess” themed party about a month after she killed Rachel and served alcohol to one or more teenagers.
- Weeks after she killed Rachel Elva would post comments on her MySpace page that showed zero remorse. Only more partying, fun and guys.
- While in County jail Elva told her brother “they need to get over it” – of course in reference to the family of Rachel only wanting due justice.
If the jury was allowed to know the above would their decision be different? We will never know.
RIVERSIDE - A former ambulance driver who killed a college student in an alcohol-fueled head-on crash was convicted today of gross vehicular manslaughter.
Elva Diaz, 32, could face 10 years in prison when she's sentenced by Riverside County Superior Court Judge Mark Johnson on Aug. 5.
Diaz was at the wheel of a pickup truck that slammed into a sedan driven by 18-year-old Rachel Amaris Elliott of Irvine on Feb. 20, 2008.
Former EMT convicted of killing young woman while driving drunk
:: The Valley News
"Nothing can bring Rachel back," the young woman's mother, Jill, said tearfully outside the courtroom. "I don't think you can ever have closure when your daughter is violently killed."
Jurors spent about a day deliberating before finding Diaz guilty of the manslaughter count. The panel could have convicted her of second-degree murder, which would have carried a minimum 15 years to life prison term.
"We're disappointed that the jury didn't go with the murder conviction, but we respect their decision," said Rachel's father, Steve Elliott. "We're at peace with letting the justice system work."
He, his wife and Rachel's brother, Erik, remembered the 18-year-old UC Irvine student as "vivacious and affectionate."
"Everyone used to say she lit up a room when she walked in," Jill Elliott said. "She was very loving and had a great sense of humor."
Johnson ordered Diaz held without bail until the sentencing hearing. She was being held in lieu of $5 million bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.
According to testimony from her approximately week-long trial, the defendant had spent hours drinking with her boyfriend and other associates at Sportsman's Bar on Temescal Canyon Road in Corona before taking off in her truck and heading south on Knabe Road.
Placentia police Detective Zachary Palumbo, who was dating Diaz at the time, testified that both he and the defendant were under the influence and that he tried to dissuade her from driving away, but she refused to listen.
The lawman opted not to exercise his authority and attempt to physically stop her from leaving the parking lot that night. He walked home.
Diaz traveled less than a mile on Knabe before crashing into Elliott's vehicle. According to the District Attorney's Office, Diaz crossed into opposing traffic near Claystone Avenue and ran straight into the victim at a high rate of speed.
Elliott died hours later at Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar. Diaz suffered minor injuries.
The former emergency medical technician's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Aimee Vierra, argued that her client was not guilty of second-degree murder because the law states that a murder conviction is only justified if a defendant who caused a fatal crash while drunk had knowledge of the potential deadly consequences of his or her behavior.
"There was no warning about the dangers of drinking and driving in this case," Vierra said.
Diaz posted a $75,000 bond after her arrest and months later left the country, traveling to Santa Cruz De Camotian, near Guadalajara, Mexico, where authorities located her last August and had her extradited back to the United States.
According to Vierra, Diaz was not technically a fugitive because her bail bond had expired and prosecutors had not filed a criminal complaint against her by the time she went south of the border.
Elliott was studying to be a forensic scientist and, ironically, had been an active participant in her high school's "Every 15 Minutes" program, which emphasizes the dangers of drinking and driving.