A San Diego woman was texting and talking on her cell phone just before her Prius collided into the back of an idling car on an Orange County freeway, killing 23-year-old Deanna Mauer. Jorene Ypano Nicolas was sentenced Friday to six years in solitary confinement.
“The thought of you not being with your daughter is killing me every day,” she said. “From the bottom of my heart, from the bottom of my pain, I’m sorry you can’t physically be with your daughter anymore.”
Nicolas claimed she wanted to check on the victim and attempt to revive her with CPR, but was ordered to stand back because of the risk of injury to the victim’s spine. This account was later contradicted by the testimony of several witnesses according to Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker.
But Orange County Superior Court Judge Steven Bromberg wasn’t convinced by the apology. He imposed the maximum term under the law on the 32-year-old defendant, saying that her lack of remorse was “deafening.”
The judge said her crime was more severe due to the fatality not being caused by mental or physical impairment, mere ignorance and negligence, a choice to text while driving.
“I came here every day to fight for my daughter because you kept blaming her” for causing the crash, she said.
Regarding the defendant’s mournful goodbye to her daughter when she was placed into custody following the verdict, Dawn Mauer said, “You killed my daughter. I didn’t get to say goodbye to her and hug her… You not only killed my daughter, but you killed me and took my life. She was the other half of myself.”
Nicolas sent 13 text messages in the 15 minutes prior to the crash on the San Diego 405 Freeway and then answered a phone call just before the impact, according to Walker.
“An Event Data Recorder, also known informally as a “black box”, in Nicolas’ 2006 Prius indicated she was driving 85 mph at the time of the 10:58 a.m. collision,” the prosecutor said.
“From 10:42 a.m. until 10:56 a.m., there’s a record of the defendant sending 13 text messages. At 10:57 a.m., records indicate she took a call,” according to Walker.
“She’s doing this actively, not paying attention, driving 20 miles per hour over the limit,” Walker said, telling jurors that northbound traffic ahead had come to a halt due to another collision.
A witness reported to investigators that Nicolas did not attempt to help Mauer but instead went back to her vehicle to grab her cellphone and make calls, Walker said.
Nicolas claims that Mauer was the one responsible for the crash.
“She veered into my lane, so I avoided her and I hit the center divider,” Nicolas told reporters last year after her first trial. “I tried to avoid her and her car spun out and hit the center divider.”
Mrs. Mauer will continue life without her beloved daughter who was taken from her due to negligence and ignorance of another driver.
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