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A woman convicted of killing three persons by crashing into a car parked on the side of a freeway two years ago, was sentenced yesterday to ten years in prison.

There were so many people who wanted to hear the sentencing that the case was moved to a larger room, upstairs in San Diego’s North County courthouse, yesterday afternoon.

More than 40 persons crowded into Judge Runston Maino’s courtroom to hear statements from the family of the victims and supporters of the convicted woman, and Debbie Sumi herself, February 1, 2013.

A jury had declared Debbie Pacheco Sumi guilty of three counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, after a two-week trial in October 2012.

Debbie Pacheco Sumi, then 33, and her boyfriend Larry Alvarez, 34, were in a Jeep that ran into a black Nissan that was parked on the side of Highway 78. The boyfriend, who is the father of two of Sumi’s four children, did not survive the crash that night, in August 2010.

Debbie Sumi was thrown clear of the wreck, and her back was reportedly broken in two places, but she survived to stand trial. Sumi denied being the driver of the Jeep that night, instead placing the blame on her deceased boyfriend Larry Alvarez.

The other two people who were killed, Susana Orozco and Erica Oliva, both 23, were standing outside the Nissan when it was struck. A survivor testified that they pulled over onto the side of the highway because one of the women felt sick.

Debbie Sumi’s blood alcohol level was tested at hospital, and some estimates put her BAL as high as .348 that night, which experts testified could be considered even a lethal level of alcohol. Debbie Sumi is a tiny woman, reportedly 4 feet 9 inches tall and weighing 104 pounds. The prosecutor said Sumi had been without a valid driver’s license for years.

Family of the women who were killed spoke to the judge, they described Debbie Sumi as “irresponsible” and “careless” and “reckless;” they asked the judge for the maximum sentence.

Two persons spoke on behalf of Debbie Sumi, asking for mercy and leniency “for the sake of her children.”

Debbie Sumi spoke for 3 minutes, she read from a prepared statement while weeping and sniffling. She said, in part: “I’m sorry for your pain, I’m sorry that night ever happened…. There’s not one day that has passed in which I haven’t asked why I had to be the one to survive, and I guess for that I’m sorry too…. I would like to say that I loved Larry, he was my best friend and my other half… But in the end, we all lost that important someone, that was a part of our lives….”

Debbie Pacheco Sumi did not admit being the driver of the Jeep, and her defense attorney said she is filing an appeal for her client.

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Comments

Visduh Feb. 2, 2013 @ 7:44 p.m.

This post does not mention if the ten year sentence is the "max." If it was not, what would that have been?

While the convicted felon says she's "sorry", the report makes the point that she still does not admit guilt. After such a conviction and sentence, under current rules, an unwillingness to accept responsibility will keep the convict in custody for the full term. (Craig Peyer will not admit his guilt, hence he's denied parole at every hearing.) Looks as if she will do the full ten years. And then? Unemployable, she'll go on welfare. Some justice.

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 2, 2013 @ 8:06 p.m.

While the convicted felon says she's "sorry", the report makes the point that she still does not admit guilt. After such a conviction and sentence, under current rules, an unwillingness to accept responsibility will keep the convict in custody for the full term.

She went to trial and has a first appeal with state paid lawyers as a matter of right so she really can't admit guilt at this point. While I agree accepting the responsibility of your actions would be helpful for all involved, she cannot do that while under an appeal.

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Visduh Feb. 2, 2013 @ 8:48 p.m.

Agreed. If the defense attorney does not appeal, she will be adjudged to have failed to do her professional duty. Even if she knows this little twirp is guilty as hell, she has to appeal, or risk disbarment. That is how the criminal "justice" system is gamed now, and why these things take so long to be handled. This case was open and shut, yet it has taken two years to send her packing to the joint.

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 2, 2013 @ 8:10 p.m.

(Craig Peyer will not admit his guilt, hence he's denied parole at every hearing.) Looks as if she will do the full ten years. And then? Unemployable, she'll go on welfare. Some justice.

Peyer was denied parole again the last time he came up, and under the new rules his next parole hearing is in 15 years, he will die in prison. Same with Charlie Manson. As for the actual time served, certain crimes do NOT get the good time custody credits, but dui/manslaughter may be one of those where they do not apply. Murder, rape, and other serious violent crimes do 85%, murder is 100%, no credits at all. I don't know about this charge.

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 2, 2013 @ 8:04 p.m.

Debbie Sumi blood alcohol level was tested at hospital, and some estimates put her BAL as high as .348 that night, which experts testified could be considered even a lethal level of alcohol.

She should have died from alcohol poisoning. She got off easy. 10 years is really only 5 years. Her children are the ones who will suffer.

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valerieg5150 Feb. 10, 2013 @ 7:27 p.m.

Debbie got off really easy ten years aint nothing compared to the three people who lost their lives forever. my stepdad died in that crash and it could of been prevented. they still had children to raise and she took him away from raiseing his children. the children didnt even get a chance to know how wonderful of a dad they had but they will one day when they get older. and for the other women that died i feel for their families its sad they just started living their life and had alot more to live. shame on the jury they should of gave her a life sentance that would deff gave Debbie enough time to think of the stupid act she pulled by drinking and driving.

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Radical Uterus Feb. 10, 2013 @ 10:44 p.m.

Debbie Sumi's drinking & driving ended in death, sentence ten years as opposed to Tiffany St. Ives who hits, then drives with Marlene Resendez on the hood of her car for 400 yards, then watches her die on the side of the road, sentence one year in jail and probation.

I am stunned. That is a huge gap in the way these cases have been brought to conclusion.

Debbie is horrified at what she has done. Meanwhile Tiffany has a nice ranch to go home to and never admits doing anything wrong.

Driving with a victim on the hood of your car for over 400 yards speaks to a depravity that is hard for me to swallow. Yet no felony conviction for Tiffany.

Tiffany did her best to cover up her crime with bleach and paint, demonstrating her sober efforts to get away with murder.

I admit I am confused. I wonder if I cover up my crimes will I get a slap on the wrist?

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