A sentencing hearing is scheduled to resume today for a 19-year-old woman who drank and smoked marijuana before a hit-and-run crash on an Ocean Beach freeway that left an aspiring engineer dead.
Nikolette Kristina Gallo faces anywhere from probation to four years in prison for causing the March 11 death of 23-year-old Sho Funai, who was studying for his master's degree in engineering at UC San Diego.
On Thursday, the victim's father, Yuji, testified that the defendant was not remorseful and was trying to escape responsibility for his son's death.
“We need to send the right message,” he told Judge Dwayne Moring. “It
is not OK to kill somebody and run away.”
Gallo pleaded guilty last month to felony hit-and-run causing death and a misdemeanor count of being a minor in possession of alcohol.
The defendant was taken into custody at her home nearly eight hours after a passer by found the victim's body alongside Interstate 8, just east of Nimitz Boulevard, said California Highway Patrol Officer Art Athans.
Family and friends said Funai had a habit of walking home to avoid drinking and driving. He was new to Ocean Beach and apparently lost his way the night he was killed. Prosecutor Rebecca Zipp said the victim had a blood-alcohol level of .17 percent when he was hit.
Gallo told investigators she had just dropped off a friend in the beach area and was on her way home when she hit what she thought was a discarded sofa or a coyote.
The next morning, she saw news coverage of the pedestrian fatality and told her father she feared she might have been the motorist involved, Athans said. They contacted an attorney, who got in touch with the CHP and said investigating officers could meet with his clients at the Gallo home.
There, they got a statement from the teenager, who admitted to drinking prior to the accident, and they inspected her 2007 Toyota Camry, which had significant front-end damage, according to Athans.
Defense attorney Paul Pfingst said the victim was walking in the middle of the road when he was hit by Gallo.
–City News Service