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Woman gets 15 years to life for Anaheim DUI crash that killed pregnant woman

CBS News Live
CBS News Los Angeles Live

A Garden Grove woman was sentenced Friday to 15 years to life in prison for running down and killing a 23-year-old pregnant woman in Anaheim four years ago.

Courtney Fritz Pandolfi, 44, pleaded guilty Feb. 6 to second-degree murder and a felony count of driving under the influence of a drug causing injury, along with misdemeanor counts of driving on a suspended or revoked license due to a DUI, driving under the influence of a drug and possession of drug paraphernalia.

She also pleaded guilty to drug charges while in custody, according to Deputy District Attorney Brian Orue.

(credit: Anaheim Police Department)

The crash happened on the evening of Aug. 11, 2020, when Yesenia Lisette Aguilar of Anaheim was walking on the sidewalk with her husband when a white Jeep SUV jumped the curb and struck her, police said. Aguilar was 35 weeks pregnant at the time.

Paramedics took the woman to the hospital, where the baby was delivered via emergency C-section.

After Friday's hearing, Orue pointed to the victim's husband, James Alvarez, who was holding the couple's 3 1/2-year-old daughter, Adalyn Rose, as a "miracle that emerged from this case."

Alvarez told Pandolfi during the sentencing hearing that his daughter "lost big," and that he wanted the defendant to "share the pain I carry."

He told the defendant he hopes she finds the help she needs for her addictions while in prison.

Alvarez has tried to use the tragedy to share inspirational words on social media to help others going through an unexpected tragedy. He said he would continue to sound the alarm about the dangers of impaired driving.

Pandolfi was charged with second-degree murder instead of voluntary manslaughter, which does not carry a life sentence, because she was previously convicted of DUI and was given a so-called Watson Waiver, which warns DUI offenders that if they get into a deadly collision, they face the upgraded charge of murder.

Pandolfi pleaded guilty on April 24, 2015, to possession of a controlled substance, being under the influence of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving under the influence of a drug, all misdemeanors.

She pleaded guilty July 8, 2016, to a felony count of identity theft, and misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence of a drug, falsely representing herself to an officer, being under the influence of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance. 

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