Local News

Monday, Jul 07 2014 09:52 AM

Distracted driver resentenced to year in jail, no community service or probation

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Anna Marie Reynosa at her June 26 sentencing for vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence in the death of motorcyclist Charla Wilkins in 2012.

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Anna Marie Reynosa fights back tears during the sentencing phase of her trial for vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence in the death of motorcyclist Charla Wilkins in 2012. At right is attorney Ernest Hinman.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

The distracted driver who crashed into and killed a motorcyclist while on her way to purchase drugs to get high with her mother and friends won't serve a day of probation or perform an hour of community service.

In addition, Anna Marie Reynosa, 22, won't be tested for drugs or alcohol. Reynosa refused the terms of her probation, finding them "too onerous," and instead decided to serve a year in jail instead of a reduced jail term plus the probation terms to which she previously had been sentenced.

Judge John W. Lua resentenced Reynosa Monday to 365 days in jail, noting that any defendant has a right to refuse probation and instead serve more time in custody. Reynosa had been distracted by her cellphone and ran a stop sign in a 2012 crash that killed 20-year-old Charla Ann Wilkins.

Lua had sentenced Reynosa June 26 to a 220-day jail term, 400 hours of community service and three years of supervised probation. He said Monday he had deemed those terms necessary both for the rehabilitation of Reynosa and the safety of the public.

Nevertheless, "this court cannot force probation on anyone," Lua said.

Reynosa was taken into custody following her original sentencing and currently has a total of 33 days of custody credits. She receives 50 percent credits and will likely be free within six months.

She originally had been charged with gross vehicular manslaughter -- a felony -- but a jury convicted her May 30 of the misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter with ordinary negligence. Her case marked the first time a motorist in Kern County was charged with a felony in connection with texting while driving.

Prosecutor Esther Schlaerth said Reynosa's behavior showed significant recklessness and disregard for others. Schlaerth said she'd wanted the community service and probation terms to help rehabilitate Reynosa.

She said it's disappointing Reynosa won't have to fulfill those terms. It's very unusual for a defendant to refuse probation, Schlaerth said, but Reynosa apparently "found the terms not to her liking."

Lua said as much during the proceedings, noting the defense made no objection during the original sentencing until he detailed her probation terms. Still, he said Reynosa appeared to show sincere remorse when she read a letter of apology to the victim's family during sentencing.

Reynosa's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Ernest Hinman, was on vacation Monday. Another Deputy Public Defender, Tim Blenner, stood in for him during the proceedings and afterward reiterated Lua's comments about a defendant not having to accept probation.

Police estimated Reynosa was traveling 63 to 68 mph when her Toyota Tacoma slammed into the back of Wilkins' motorcycle at the intersection of Jewetta Avenue and Reina Road in northwest Bakersfield. The bike remained upright following the April 14, 2012, crash, with the back portion lodged under the truck as the two vehicles traveled 331.6 feet from the point of impact.

Wilkins was stopped at a stop sign when hit. The posted speed limit in that area is 45 mph.

Reynosa told responding officers she'd been on her cellphone when she crashed. She later gave a variety of responses to detectives regarding what she'd been doing with the phone before impact.

Investigators found a partial text message to a "Nick" on Reynosa's phone, but there was no time stamp on the message. Schlaerth said circumstantial evidence indicated Reynosa was drafting the message at the time of the crash.

Reynosa had been cited three times for speeding in the months leading up to the crash, including a ticket just days before striking Wilkins.

She had been on her way to purchase psilocybin mushrooms when the crash occurred. During the original sentencing last month, Lua said Reynosa had planned to get high with her mother and her friends.

Reynosa's mother and boyfriend attended the resentencing, as did numerous friends and family of Wilkins. The family of Wilkins was visibly upset and declined comment.

Reynosa has agreed to pay the Public Defender's office $15,000, plus amounts to be determined to the Wilkins family and the county's victim compensation fund.

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