SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – A judge was going to sentence a DUI suspect to time served. But the victims family made an impassioned plea and showed the judge photos of the suspect partying when she was supposed to be out on medical leave.
The judge threw out her plea deal.
Facebook posts might have been what turned the judge around. The posts show the defendant, Amoreena Brannum, living it up with steak dinners, salon treatments and Christmas in the park.
She was supposed to be serving home detention after pleading guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter for causing the deaths of three people while driving under the influence of drugs.
Sara Maurer, a family friend of the victims, said, “It’s just been the most horrific travesty of justice. All the way around.”
Brannum plowed into a parked car on the side of Highway 101 in San Jose in 2012.
Carmel artist Mark Bava, his brother Los Angeles filmmaker Chris Bava and their friend Catherine Ash were all killed. Brannum suffered minor injuries.
Family and friends of the victims showed up in court Wednesday expecting the judge to release Brannum with four years credit for time served on electronic monitoring.
Lilliana Bava Braicao, the victims’ mother said, “She would have walked out today. The judge changed her mind.”
Judge Andrea Flint did change her mind after hearing the family’s victim impact statements.
“And we also had stalked this woman on Facebook and showed the judge how she’d been living her life, not contributing a cent, never saying she was sorry,” Maurer said.
Attorneys call it “busting the plea deal.”
Deputy District Attorney Sandip Patel said, “It’s rare, but not unheard of.”
The judge allowed Brannum to rescind her guilty plea, setting up jury trial.
“It’s about time…The tsunami effect of what this woman did and the lack of remorse has just torn a community, all over the world, apart,” said Maurer.
We reached out to Brannum’s attorney for comment, but have not heard back.
This will be a jury trial that will start later this month. The first pre-trial hearing is scheduled for February 28.