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USC hit-and-run offenders handed max sentence

March 11, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A husband and wife convicted of the hit-and-run crash that killed a University of Southern California student have been given the maximum sentence possible by an L.A. judge who called the couple's actions "outrageous," "shocking" and "extremely callous."Claudia Cabrera, 31, and Josue Luna, 34, had pleaded no contest to various charges stemming from the March 29, 2009, crash that killed 18-year-old Adrianna Bachan and injured Marcus Garfinkle.

Cabrera was sentenced to eight years in state prison and her husband was sentenced to seven years during Monday's hearing in Los Angeles. In court, Bachan's family and Garfinkle spoke out against the defendants.

"I live every day in pain and emotionally, I deal with the helplessness of not being able to deal with the idea, the fact that I cannot keep Adrianna safe and get her home. I deal with that every day," said Garfinkle amidst sobs.

"I will never forget waking up on the side of the street, covered in blood, naked...with all my bones out of my legs and my side stomach was slashed open, gushing blood," described Garfinkle.

In court, Bachan's family played videos of the vivacious youngster who was nicknamed "angel face."

"How can such monsters have no feelings for other people's children?" Bachan's mother, Carmen Bachan asked the courtroom.

"These people evaded and avoided responsibility every step of the way. They have destroyed our lives and wiped out one of the most happiest and most promising young women, my daughter Adrianna Nikki Bachan. I lost by baby. I guarantee you society lost a star," she said, pounding her fists on the podium.

Investigators say Cabrera was driving on a suspended license and had her 7-month-old son in the car when it struck and killed Bachan as she was crossing Jefferson Boulevard at Hoover Street near the USC campus. The couple's Infiniti also hit 19-year-old Garfinkle, whose legs were broken.

Police say Garfinkle was carried up to 400 feet on the windshield until the car stopped. Investigators say Luna pulled him off of the car's hood and left him in the street.

"I was treated like an animal - unforgivable acts. I believe that they are not sorry. They're sorry that they got caught," said Garfinkle.

During Monday's sentencing hearing, both Cabrera and Luna apologized.

"We have felt great remorse, and we have always tried to express to say sorry. We never found a way to say it, and now it's my opportunity to say it," said Luna.

The prosecution argued that Luna and Cabrera should get the maximum prison term because of the violent and heinous nature of the crime. The defense argued for two to three years because the defendants have no major prior criminal record.

Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry wasn't convinced. He rejected the request for less prison time.

The Bachan family said that Luna and Cabrera went to great lengths to cover up their crimes. They spirited the car to Mexico and repeatedly lied to police. They say these are good reasons against believing the couple's apology.

"I will never, ever, ever forgive them. I don't have that capacity in me, I'm sorry to say. I will never forgive them," said Carmen Bachan, who added that the sentencing for the offending couple is not enough. She thinks that defendants in hit-and-run cases like this should not be rewarded because they were able to evade breathalyzer tests. She says that the law should be changed so that hit-and-run drivers as assumed to be drunk, which will serve as a strong motivator for the driver at fault to stick around the scene of the crash.


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