|For Immediate Release
July 8, 2011
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
DRUNKEN DRIVER WITH .20 BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL SENTENCED TO SIX YEARS IN PRISON FOR CRASHING INTO AND KILLING BICYCLIST
SANTA ANA – A drunken driver with a blood alcohol level almost three times the legal limit was sentenced today to six years in state prison for killing a man by crashing into him as he rode his bicycle home from work. Michelle Nicole Stearns, 30, San Juan Capistrano, pleaded guilty to the court March 16, 2011, to one felony count of gross vehicular man slaughter while intoxicated.
At approximately 2:00 a.m. on Oct. 15, 2007, Stearns was driving in Dana Point while under the influence of alcohol. The defendant approached curve in the road but failed to turn and instead drove on the sidewalk and crashed into a street sign. Stearns’ vehicle began to spin and she struck victim Jose Barranco-Patino, who bussed tables at a local restaurant and was on his way home from work. The defendant’s car then crashed into an electric box and came to a stop.
The Orange County Sherriff’s Department responded to the scene and contacted Stearns, who displayed objective signs of alcohol intoxication including bloodshot and watery eyes, unsteady balance, and emitting an odor of alcohol. She had a blood alcohol level of .20 percent, almost three times the legal limit.
Barranco-Patino suffered severe injuries to his head and brain and his body tissue was left on the road and sidewalk. Barranco-Patino was pronounced dead at the scene.
Deputy District Attorney Nancy Hayashida of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.