Tustin Teen Held in Central Women’s Jail May be Released Today if Charges are not Filed
ORANGE, California (Feb. 5, 2014) — Sommer Nicole Gonzales, 18, of Tustin, a suspected hit-and-run, DUI driver being held at Central Women’s Jail for the death of a 21-year-old bicyclist, could be released from custody today if charges are not filed against her immediately, according to City News Service.
Under California Penal Code section 825, suspects may be detained in jail for up to two court days or up to 48 hours excluding weekends and holidays. The 5-foot 4-inch teenager, who is currently being held without bail, is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 6, 2014 at the Lamoreaux Justice Center at 341 The City Drive South in Orange.
The CHP is being asked by Orange County prosecutors to further investigate the fatal accident to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge Gonzales on charges of hit-and-run
Police arrested the Tustin teen about 8:45 a.m. Sunday just over an hour after the fatal bicycle accident in Orange at 7 a.m. They tracked down her 2001 Toyota in a Rancho Santa Margarita parking lot and found her in the process of unloading her belongings from the vehicle and putting them into a friend’s car. Her blood was tested and it is believed she is under the influence of drugs at the time of the fatal wreck, but results will take a few weeks to confirm police suspicions.
Gonzales allegedly struck and killed bicyclist Joseph Robinson on Santiago Canyon Road in the early morning hours of Sunday, Feb. 2. She reportedly fled the scene of the crash and left bicyclist Joseph Robinson, 21, to die in the bushes on the side of the road.
Her car was spotted with a smashed in windshield by Orange County Fire Authority Battalion Chief Marc Stone who was driving in the vicinity of the accident that morning. His first thoughts were the vehicle had struck an animal, but he saw a shoe in the road and pulled over to investigate, but instead found Robinson and his bicycle in the bushes.
Officer Stone reported a description of Gonzales’ vehicle and police eventually caught up with her in the process of removing her personal items from the car. The field sobriety test was performed on her and she was arrested.
So what type of sentence will Gonzales face if she is convicted of hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated? Every case has a different set of facts and circumstances including the defendant’s driving history, previous convictions and criminal history.
Take for example a recent case involving a fatal bicycle accident in Pacoima. About 2 a.m., on Oct. 2, 2010, driver Shawn Fields struck and killed a 17-year old Kennedy High School student named Danny Marin on Laurel Canyon Blvd while he was under the influence of alcohol. He fled the scene of the crash just as Gonzales did in the Orange County case. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison for his actions.
On the other hand, a repeated drunk driver Andrew Thomas Gallo, 23, of San Gabriel was sentenced to 51 years to life in prison on three felony counts of murder, DUI and other felonies for a crash that killed Los Angeles Angel pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others. Gallo was on probation for a previous DUI conviction at the time he ran the red traffic light and crashed into the car with three people in it.
“Unfortunately, first-time drunk drivers are treated differently in court than those who have been previously convicted, but in cases where a driver also flees the scene of the fatal crash there is likely to be a stiffer punishment handed down,” said Attorney West Thomas.
(Copyright ©2014 The Thomas Law Firm. All Rights Reserved.)