Woman found guilty in 2011 Westminster fatal distracted driving crash

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- A jury has found Jorene Nicolas guilty of gross vehicular manslaughter in the 2011 crash in Westminster that killed 23-year-old Deanna Mauer.

Jurors took about 4 1/2 hours to reach the verdict on Thursday. The judge allowed Nicolas, a 31-year-old single mother, to say goodbye to her 4-year-old daughter outside the courtroom before she was taken into custody.

Mauer's family cried and hugged each other as the clerk read the verdict.

"I'm glad the truth is finally here," the victim's mother Dawn Mauer said.

Prosecutors allege Nicolas slammed into the back of Mauer's Hyundai at 85 mph, killing her as she sat in stopped traffic on the 405 Freeway in April 2011.

They say Nicolas was distracted on her cellphone, texting just before the crash. Nicolas' attorneys say Nicolas' phone was not in use at the time of the accident.

This is the second time Nicolas has been tried in the death of Mauer, who was a star pitcher at San Jose State University. The first trial ended with a deadlocked jury last year.

Nicolas was offered a plea deal earlier this year with no prison time and one year in jail, but she backed out of it.

Sentencing for Nicolas was scheduled for Sept. 4.
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