A case of vehicular homicide was settled Wednesday over the protests of a mother who says a paltry one-year sentence pales in comparison to her daughter’s life that was snuffed out by the drunk driver.
Meanwhile prosecutors say they were fortunate to work a deal where the defendant will serve nearly a year behind bars and that he faces 12 years in prison if he doesn’t live by the letter of the law.
“He violently killed her,” Gina Lance, mother of Ashlyn Barnes said after her daughter’s killer was allowed to enter a guilty plea over her protests Wednesday morning. “It’ ridiculous. Justice wasn’t done for my daughter.”
Lance is angry that prosecutors allowed Ramiro R. Ibarra, 20, to enter guilty pleas to charges of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault in a deal in which he will be required to serve one year of a 12-year sentence. After good time and time already served he will serve about eight months before he is released on community corrections.
Ibarra, who was 19 at the time of the wreck, entered guilty pleas for the death of Barnes, 17, who was killed when his Chevy Blazer slammed into a tree. His vehicular assault charges came for injuries suffered by fellow passengers Amber Bates, 17, Geoffrey Washom, 20, and Holden Nunley, 19.
He was huffing fumes to get high when he intentionally drove his SUV into a farm field off Vervilla Road and began off-roading. Wreck reonstructionists point to the fact Ibarra passed through an open gate in the dark field as proof he was under control of his vehicle when he drove into the pasture. His Blazer traveled 1,920 feet from the road to the tree, giving him plenty of time to stop before he hit the tree.
In light of his actions, Lance wanted to see him go to trial and perhaps face a longer sentence behind bars. According to Assistant District Attorney Darryl Julian, it is highly likely the driver would have seen less time or even perhaps no jail time even had he went to trial and been convicted.
“She is understandably upset and we are profoundly sympathetic,” Julian said. “There’s no happy ending here but we believe we were able to get a good settlement that was approved by the rest of the victims and their families.”
Julian said that even if Ibarra had been convicted on all the charges by a jury, there was a real likelihood he could have avoided jail time altogether given his lack of prior record.
“The judge is bound by sentencing guidelines,” Julian said. “We might not like the law but we are bound to uphold it. In this case, even with a conviction, he would be eligible for straight probation. As it is, he has admitted to the offenses and there will be no appeals.”
Lance isn’t buying their reasoning. She believes had he went to trial and been sentenced to the middle ground of 10 years, he would have at least served three years in prison.
“It sounds like there’s just a bunch of paper pushing going on,” Lance said. “I’m just trying to get justice for my daughter and I’m made out to be the bad guy.”
Lance said the lack of teeth in the vehicular homicide law is disappointing since it will allow her daughter’s killer back on the streets in less than a year. His driver license has been revoked for 10 years and he must perform 200 hours public service work as part of his plea agreement.