Monday morning a former Texas Tech student pleaded guilty to intoxicated manslaughter and intoxicated assault after making a deal with the Lubbock County District Attorney's Office.
Assistant DA Tom Brummett says they were prepared to go to trial Monday, but Jeena Roberts, 23, accepted a plea deal that's been on the table since February. As part of the deal Roberts was sentenced to 15 years for the intoxicated manslaughter charge and eight years for the assault, which she will serve concurrently.
Back on October 22, 2010, Brummett says Roberts was a petroleum engineering student at Texas Tech and had been on a field trip. He says evidence shows Roberts had been drinking during the trip and when she got back she and another person got into her car to leave.
Brummett says according to witnesses, Roberts was driving somewhere between 80 and 90 miles per hour down Fourth Street near Avenue L where the street dips down under the train tracks when she rear ended an SUV.
The force of the impact ejected Linda Smaltz, 54, out of the back seat of the SUV. She hit a concrete barrier and died at the scene. Smaltz's daughter, Bethany Vasquez, was in the passenger seat and she was also seriously injured.
After the sentencing on Monday, Smaltz's family members including her two daughters took the stand to talk face to face to Roberts.
"There wasn't a dry eye, whether it was the judge, the attorneys, the defendant or the victims," Brummett said. "We saw the full spectrum. We had people being very blunt with her, telling her what she stole from them. Then all the way to people who told her they hope she makes something out of her life with their experience."
Brummett hopes people will see this tragic story and realize the dangerous and severe consequences that come with drinking and driving.
"With these kinds of cases there are no winners. Everybody is a loser. The victims have lost a family member that's been taken away, and the defendant and her family has sustained a loss as well because she's going to prison," Brummett said. "her life isn't over, and she will get out at some point... but there's going to be very harsh consequences and realities that are drastically going to change her path."
Brummett says because there was a deadly weapon finding in the case, meaning her vehicle, Roberts will be forced to serve half of her sentence before she can apply for parole. That means she will not be eligible until seven and a half years have been served.
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