Woman Sentenced to 15 Years For Fatal Drunk Driving Crash
By Candice Naranjo
Sat Aug 23rd, 2014 12:44pm America/Los_Angeles
REDWOOD CITY — An East Palo Alto woman convicted of second-degree murder and vehicular manslaughter with intoxication and felony evading charges in connection with a fatal 2011 drunk driving crash was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison Friday, according to prosecutors.
A jury convicted Leylani Simmons, 28, on June 17 after a nine-day trial of three felony counts in the June 17, 2011 death of Lorina Veamatahau.
Simmons has credit for 1,160 days time served and must serve 15 years before she becomes eligible for parole hearings, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
Veamatahau, 22, was a passenger in Simmons’ car when East Palo Alto patrol officers spotted Simmons driving recklessly on Pulgas Avenue at about 10:30 p.m.
Police tried to initiate a traffic stop, but Simmons refused to pull over, according to prosecutors.
A video camera on the console of the police patrol car recorded the subsequent pursuit, during which Simmons drove through at least six stop signs, drove on the wrong side of the road and reached speeds of up to 80 mph on surface streets, according to prosecutors.
The chase continued for about one and a half miles, until Simmons lost control of her car and crashed at the intersection of Pulgas Avenue and East Bayshore Road.
Simmons and Veamatahau were both ejected in the crash.
Veamatahau was pinned beneath the vehicle and died from her injuries at the scene.
Simmons, who had an active arrest warrant in Santa Clara County for reckless driving at the time of the crash, was taken to Stanford University Hospital, where she was arrested three days later.
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