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DUI Torrance suspect charged with murder

November 27, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A Torrance driver accused of being under the influence when she hit and killed a man was charged Tuesday with murder and other counts.

Sherri Lynn Wilkins, 51, was so drunk on the night of the accident that she hit pedestrian Philip Moreno on Torrance Boulevard and kept on going. For 2.3 miles, witnesses said she tried to dislodge the dying man caught on her windshield.

Witnesses surrounded her car at Crenshaw Boulevard and 182nd Street, bringing it to a stop. Moreno later died at a hospital.

Wilkins has been charged with one felony count each of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI causing injury, driving with a .08 percent or higher blood alcohol causing injury and leaving the scene of an accident.

The victim's family saw Moreno's alleged killer for the first time on Tuesday. Wilkins appeared in court for arraignment, but the hearing was postponed until next month.

"I was just sick to my stomach," said the victim's brother Ruben Moreno.

Wilkins worked as a drug and alcohol rehab counselor at Twin Town Treatment Center in Torrance. She was a recovering addict who was working as a substance abuse counselor.

The family appealed to the public for more information about her. The family's attorney Kevin Danesh wants to know if other people may have contributed to Wilkins' behavior.

"We want to get to the bottom of all of this and find out how this came to happen," Danesh said. "Where was she prior to this, who was she drinking with."

Wilkins told police that she didn't stop because she panicked. She has a previous hit-and-run arrest, but charges were not pursued because tests found she was not under the influence of any substance.

The substance abuse counselor, who has two prior burglary convictions and is a third striker, is being held on $2.25 million bail. If convicted, she faces up to life in prison.

A memorial fund has been set up to help the family pay for funeral expenses. There are three different ways to contribute to the fund. For more information, visit the page created for the Phillip Moreno Memorial Fund.


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