Judge refuses to reconsider sentence in deadly DWI crash

Crime

Too little, too late: that’s what the attorney for a woman who killed two men while driving drunk has to say to the prosecution. Friday, Christie Noriega’s defense team responded to the prosecution’s request to reconsider her sentence.

Legislators and the public were outraged that the judge only sentenced the mother to three years in prison, suspending the other 27 years for the fatal drunk driving crash. Her attorneys say her disease is to blame for what happened.

Last week, the families of Mikey Chambellan and Lonnie Escovedo cried as they asked a judge for the max sentence for the woman who drove drunk, then hit and killed the two men changing a tire on the side of I-25 in March 2018.

“My son Lonnie was unrecognizable, he was cut in half, almost decapitated,” said Linda Duran, Escovedo’s mother. 

Yet, the judge sentenced Christie Noriega to just three years in prison. 

“I think this disease could turn into something much more serious such as liver disease,” said Dr. Elizabeth Penland.

It was that psychologist’s testimony that the state feels swayed Judge Louis Mcdonald’s sentencing. It’s also why they’re asking him to reconsider.

Noriega’s attorney has responded, saying Noriega’s body can’t process alcohol because of her non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.  

“The diagnosis was not made until after she pled guilty in this case, and so she didn’t know her liver had been compromised,” said Stephen Aarons.

Friday, Aarons said because Noriega wasn’t diagnosed until after the crash, she didn’t make “impulsive or reckless decisions” about drinking before driving home.

“I don’t think Mrs. Noriega did anything wrong to justify an increase,” he said. 

Aarons also said he’s unsure if a sentence can even be extended. 

Prosecutors filed an amended motion late Thursday saying they did not have ample time to contact the Corrections Department about being able to treat Noriega’s disease, which they later found out would not be a problem. 

Aaron’s said they offered to delay sentencing after the psychiatrist testified, but the prosecution declined. 

Late Friday afternoon, Judge Mcdonald denied the motion to reconsider sentencing, saying “in reaching this sentence, the Court considered everything that was presented by the State and the Defense at Sentencing.” 

He went on to say Noriega’s medical condition was but one of many factors that he considered. 

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