Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
SECOND-TIME DRUNKEN DRIVER SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR MURDERING ANOTHER MOTORIST IN EARLY MORNING HIGH-SPEED CRASH
SANTA ANA – A second-time drunken driver on probation for a previous driving under the influence conviction was sentenced today to 15 years to life in state prison for murdering a 26-year-old motorist in an early morning high-speed crash while driving with a blood alcohol level over five times the legal limit. Brittany Deanne Schuetz, 21, Santa Ana, was convicted by a jury Feb. 16, 2010, of one felony count of murder.
Prior History (Case # 07HM05157)
On July 16, 2007, Schuetz pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for driving under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol level of .14 percent on June 14, 2007. As a condition of her probation, she attended alcohol awareness classes where she was instructed about the dangers of drinking and driving.
Circumstances of the Murder
On the night of Jan. 31, 2009, Schuetz consumed several alcoholic drinks at a party. After midnight on Feb. 1, 2009, she left the party and ignored her friends’ offers to find her a ride home and their pleas for her not to drive.
At approximately 1:30 a.m., Schuetz was driving over 90 mph on Imperial Highway in a black 2003 Mazda 6. She entered the intersection at Imperial Highway and Beach Boulevard against a red light. After running the red light, the defendant struck victim April Whang’s vehicle, which was traveling eastbound on Imperial Highway from Beach Boulevard on a green light. Schuetz caused the crash that threw Whang from the driver’s seat to the cargo area of her 2004 Acura Integra. The victim was on her way home from her boyfriend Thomas Sleigh’s house, and had promised to call him when she got home. She never had the opportunity to make that call.
La Habra Police arrived at the scene to find the defendant sitting in the driver’s seat of her car. Schuetz displayed objective signs of alcohol intoxication including emitting a strong odor of alcohol from her breath, having bloodshot and watery eyes, and not being able to answer any of the basic questions asked by investigating officers. Two hours after the crash, the defendant had a blood alcohol level of .24 percent, five times the legal limit for a person under the age of 21.
Whang died at the scene due to multiple traumatic injuries. The victim was an ice hockey player and former figure skater. She worked as a store manager at The Rinks Anaheim Ice. Over 1,000 people attended her funeral. Whang lived in Fullerton with her parents and 21-year-old sister.
During the sentencing today, Sleigh gave a victim impact statement to the court explaining, “Most people go through their whole life not ever getting to experience love like we shared – we truly were soul mates. God only made one of her. She is irreplaceable. There will never be another April. Never be a second chance. I’ll miss her all of my life.” The victim’s sister, Kimberly, described Whang as “intelligent and pr