SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A 63-year-old woman convicted of vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving for the 2013 death of a 16-year-old boy wept Wednesday after a San Francisco Superior Court judge sentenced her to six years in state prison.
On Sept. 27, 2013, Jennie Zhu was speeding in her car and weaving in and out of traffic when she rear-ended a minivan near Pine and Gough streets, killing 16-year-old Lincoln High School student Kevin San and severely injuring his mother and sister, prosecutors said.
Zhu’s defense attorney Alfred Vea initially asked Judge Samuel Feng for the minimum sentence, saying that Zhu, an immigrant from China, is a model citizen who has no criminal record.
Zhu was arrested following the 2013 crash and a jury convicted her of the charges in June.
Describing the fatal crash as a “horrible accident,” Vea said, “I don’t believe, despite the verdict, that she had any intention of causing this.”
San’s parents, visibly emotional, appeared at today’s sentencing.
“Has she ever thought about how this has impacted us?” Kevin San’s father Hong San said in court via a Cantonese interpreter.
“My family will no longer be a normal family,” he said. “The very minimal responsibility you should take is to pay your dues and not run away from your responsibility.”
Zhu, who was also assisted by a Cantonese interpreter, was immediately remanded into custody.
Zhu, driving a Mercedes-Benz SUV, was speeding over 40 mph in a 25 mph zone heading west on Pine Street when she crashed into a gold minivan stopped at traffic light at Gough Street, prosecutors said.
The minivan was severely crushed and three other vehicles were damaged. Kevin San suffered a fatal head injury and died at the scene while his mother and sister suffered major injuries and were taken to the hospital along with Zhu.
Assistant District Attorney Rani Singh, who prosecuted the case, said that although San’s sister has recovered from her injuries, his mother still suffers from the injuries she suffered in the crash and is unable to work.
“Our thoughts, as an office, go to the family in this case. They’ve shown remarkable strength and courage,” District Attorney’s Office spokesman Nikesh Patel said outside of court. “We do hope that today’s outcome provides them some level of comfort and relief.”
Singh said, “It’s very difficult when you have an emotionally charged situation like this. You have two families whose lives have been forever changed and I think it’s very difficult to separate the emotion from the legal process. And in this case, having the family support us at every turn was invaluable.”