|For Immediate Release
Case # 07NF0250
DRUNKEN DRIVER WITH A BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL OF .22 AND THREE PRIOR DUI CONVICTIONS SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS TO LIFE FOR MURDERING PASSENGER BY CRASHING INTO A BIG-RIG TRUCK
WESTMINSTER – A drunken driver with three prior driving under the influence (DUI) convictions and a blood alcohol level of .22 percent was sentenced today to 15 years to life in state prison for murdering her passenger by crashing into an 18-wheel truck. Suzanne Amelia Carlson, 27, Mission Viejo, was found guilty by a jury March 5, 2010, of one felony count of murder and one felony count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with prior convictions. The defendant has three prior DUI convictions, one in 2001 and two in 2006.
On the night of Jan. 15, 2007, Carlson spent more than two hours consuming alcoholic drinks at a restaurant in Rancho Santa Margarita. The defendant left the restaurant and got into the driver’s seat of a 1997 Infiniti sedan, belonging to 55-year-old Scott Turner. The defendant was under the influence of alcohol and driving at unsafe speeds with Turner in the front passenger seat.
At approximately 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 16, 2007, while driving westbound on California State Route 91, Carlson veered across two lanes and crashed into the back of a Fed-Ex 18-wheel truck. The force of the impact crushed the right side of the victim’s car, causing Carlson to lose control and crash into the wall on the side of the freeway. Carlson freed herself from the car by climbing out of the sun roof.
Turner was trapped inside the vehicle and firefighters had to pry the car open to extricate the victim. He suffered internal injuries, from which he died shortly after the crash. At approximately 2:00 a.m., an hour and a half after the crash, Carlson had a blood alcohol level of .22 percent.
For each one of Carlson’s prior DUI convictions in 2001 and 2006, the defendant took alcohol awareness courses where she was instructed about the dangers of drinking and driving and advised that driving under the influence of alcohol can result in killing oneself or others.
During the sentencing today, the victim’s sister and son-in-law gave impact statements to the court explaining the lasting impact Turner made on their family and how the loss of the victim has been devastating.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.