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Repeat DUI-Offender Sentenced For Killing Lake Elsinore Teen

"She basically gets to go back to living her life after five years, provided she doesn't mess up in prison, while the lives of the victim's family are damaged forever," Deputy District Attorney David Tahan told City News Service.

A DUI re-offender who triggered a two-car crash near Lake Elsinore that killed an 18-year-old woman was sentenced today to 10 years in prison, though she's likely to serve only half of that time.

Theresa Jean Estes, 53, pleaded guilty on Dec. 12 to DUI gross vehicular manslaughter for the death five days before of Lake Elsinore resident Ashleigh Brooks.

The defense made the plea directly to Riverside County Superior Court Judge Michael Rushton, without negotiating with the District Attorney's Office.

Rushton imposed the maximum sentence on Estes. But because of provisions in state law aimed at rewarding prisoners for good behavior and reducing inmate overcrowding, the defendant could be freed in five years.

"She basically gets to go back to living her life after five years, provided she doesn't mess up in prison, while the lives of the victim's family are damaged forever," Deputy District Attorney David Tahan told City News Service. "The month of December, the holidays, are ruined for this family."

Tahan said Estes was heading to a restaurant with a date when the Dec. 7 crash occurred.

According to the California Highway Patrol, investigators said.

"The defendant struck the victim's car and pushed it into oncoming traffic," Tahan said.

Brooks' sedan then collided head-on with a Ford pickup truck.

The young woman -- who was one day away from turning 19 -- died at the scene. The pickup driver walked away with minor injuries, as did Estes' male passenger, who fled the location and has never been identified, according to Tahan.

Estes was slightly injured and was treated at a hospital before being booked into jail. According to court records, the defendant was convicted in 2010 of misdemeanor driving under the influence, resulting in her being sentenced to three years probation.

The single mom's blood-alcohol level at the time of the Dec. 7 wreck was just above the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle, which is .08, records showed.

"Ms. Estes had a history of drinking and driving," Tahan said. "She should have known better."

About 40 of Brooks' family and friends attended the sentencing. --City News Service

Tina Tyra February 19, 2013 at 11:26 PM
When you kill someone, it shouldn't come down to a slap on the wrist, particularly if you are a repeat offender. The passenger fled (supposedly her date), so she knows who he was. Part of her sentence should be to reveal his identity so that he can be charged with leaving the scene of an accident (a crime scene). The family can never be whole again because of her actions. Judges need to get tougher. Okay, so our prisons are overcrowded. After her 5 years, she should be called every time there is a drunk driving accident so she can come out and clean up the pavement and see how horrific it really is. As it stands, everyone else has to clean up her messes and she gets a little relaxation time in jail. That's not a real punishment.
Roberto February 20, 2013 at 02:19 AM
The prisons are full and the taxpayers are tapped. It's about time for society to figure out who to lock up and whom to catch and release. Seems everyone has a solution of locking everyone up and throwing away the key including law enforcement whose unions benefit from this agenda. We need sensible law's but up until then, talk tough, and early release for all.
Arthur Spooner February 20, 2013 at 03:28 AM
They need to put them on chain gangs Roberto. No one gets their own cell. Let them sleep in 8 hour shifts rotate them in and out of the cells. Have them work 8 hours a day in chain gangs. I bet repeat offenders would be rare!
I am no one February 20, 2013 at 03:57 AM
What a tragedy and a travesty of justice! I'm sorry but a repeat offender should NEVER get to plead down. She should have gotten life for 1st. degree murder. She also should have already had a breathalyzer installed in her vehicle prior. I can only hope that she will be grateful for the break she has been given and do some good with it.
Alek J Hidell February 20, 2013 at 02:40 PM
This repulsive welfare recipient should be in a tent prison, working hard for her food, for the full ten years. Riverside County can easily provide tents out in the desert, and these parasites can build a permanent prison cheaply, without Union labor. Fortified bread and water for those who don't fill a work quota, more substantial meals for those who do...
Roberto February 20, 2013 at 03:29 PM
"They need to put them on chain gangs Roberto. No one gets their own cell. Let them sleep in 8 hour shifts rotate them in and out of the cells. Have them work 8 hours a day in chain gangs. I bet repeat offenders would be rare!" REPLY: Not sustainable, Sheriff Apaio is being beat down and sooner or later the liberals will win...
Melodie . February 20, 2013 at 03:32 PM
A real tragedy....seems like there is always money to send a robot to Mars, but never enough to expand our prisons for people like this.
Thunder February 20, 2013 at 05:12 PM
robots on mars is very important, there is dirt and rocks there. if we could find out life once survived there, our lives would not change.
PirateGirl February 20, 2013 at 11:43 PM
Actually Arthur......that's a great suggestion!
PirateGirl February 20, 2013 at 11:53 PM
Our prisons, jails and the judicial systems are WAY too lenient. As mentioned above......chain offenders together, have a guard armed with a shotgun, and have them work! (A scene from Cool Hand Luke comes to mind). There are plenty of bad roads, and trash and litter in Riverside County! Gosh, I do not have medical, health or dental benefits. But if I was in jail or prison it would be offered to me. Something seems upside down here.
Ty February 21, 2013 at 02:41 AM
That line of thinking is useful! Throw in groundskeeping at county and state cemeteries, mopping at the morgue and it's a deal.
John February 21, 2013 at 03:18 AM
I agree with the first part of you comment, that the passenger should be dealt with, but for that other stuff about calling her out very time to an accident, that's just plain stupid, in fact it's just plain RETARDED, would you like to be call out to every traffic ticket given out, after you paid your traffic fine just so you could see what happens, or for maybe something worse that you might have done. Think about what your going to say, be for you speak. the Judge gave her the maximum sentence he could, would you like to be judged by someone who doesn't really know what's going on? We can't all be perfect like you.
Alek J Hidell February 21, 2013 at 03:17 PM
The Martian robotic explorer is about the ONLY thing to be proud about this country. We sure need it.
waterman213 February 21, 2013 at 04:22 PM
how about sending the jail birds to mars

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