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The People v. Omar Carrasco

February 24, 2012

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
OMAR CARRASCO, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. 10F01486)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Duarte , J.

P. v. Carrasco

CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Defendant Omar Carrasco drove a car that collided with another car carrying driver Gregory Valenzuela and his three passengers. The collision killed Valenzuela and two of his passengers; the third suffered serious, permanent injuries. Defendant left the scene without rendering aid or even reporting the accident; he later pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident involving death or serious injury. The trial court denied probation and sentenced Carrasco to the upper term of four years in state prison.

On appeal, Carrasco contends the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing him to an upper term and denying probation. We disagree and shall affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

At approximately 3:30 a.m. on March 6, 2010, at the intersection of Cosumnes River Boulevard and Center Parkway, a Lincoln sedan driven by Carrasco collided with a car driven by Valenzuela. The collision killed Valenzuela and two of his passengers, Manuel Ruiz and Raul Perez. The third passenger, Richard Hernandez, was found by the police injured and standing on the sidewalk. He had suffered serious, permanent injuries.

Witnesses saw Carrasco at the intersection shortly after the accident. Carrasco asked the witnesses for a ride; when they refused, he left the scene. The police found him eight hours later at the Kaiser South medical center. Carrasco said he hung up on 911 and left the scene because he was scared.

On October 19, 2010, Carrasco pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident involving death or serious injury (Veh. Code, § 20001, subd. (b)(2)). There was no agreement as to the recommended sentence; the plea was referred for a presentence probation report. At the sentencing hearing held on November 17, 2010, family members and loved ones expressed their sense of loss and anger at Carrasco for fleeing the scene of the fatal accident. The trial court also read letters from the victims' family members and from Carrasco's supporters.

The probation report recommended a middle term sentence of three years in prison, and identified a single aggravating factor, that the crime involved great bodily injury. The report identified the 25-year-old Carrasco's youth as a mitigating factor. At the time of the offense, Carrasco was on probation for two misdemeanor convictions--driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (Veh. Code, § 23152, subd. (a)) and possession of a switchblade knife (Pen. Code, § 653k).

The defense argued for the middle term sentence, on the theory that the aggravating circumstance listed in the probation report did not apply because great bodily injury was an element of the crime, and that Carrasco's relatively minor criminal record and youth were mitigating factors.

The trial court made the following statement before imposing sentence: "Well, before I start formal sentencing, let me just state to the family, I appreciate very much you coming to court here today. I know this process has been unbelievably difficult. There is no amount or number of years which could begin to adequately address the magnitude of three young lives. The criminal justice system is ...


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