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Couple who ran over USC students get maximum sentence [Updated]

A judge handed down the maximum sentence Monday to a husband and wife convicted in a hit-and-run crash that killed one USC student and left another seriously injured as they walked home last year from a fraternity party.

Judge Robert J. Perry issued a sentence of eight years in prison for Claudia Cabrera, the driver, and seven years for Josue Luna, who was riding in the front passenger seat. Their 7-month-old son was in the back.

“The acts of the defendants ... were outrageous and shocking," Perry said. “These actions were extremely callous.”

Authorities alleged that the couple's Infiniti sedan ran a red light and struck Adrianna Bachan and Marcus Garfinkle in a crosswalk near campus on March 29, 2009.

Bachan, 18, died from massive head injuries. Garfinkle, then 19, was carried about 300 feet down the street on the hood of the car but survived with multiple injuries, including two broken legs.

A student who witnessed the crash testified at a court hearing last year that he saw the car's passenger haul Garfinkle's body out of the vehicle's broken windshield while the driver pushed from the inside.

The student said the passenger dumped Garfinkle onto the sidewalk before the car sped off. In court papers, L.A. County Deputy Dist. Atty. Janis Johnson said Cabrera fled in part because she had been drinking at a party earlier in the evening.

She had also had her driver's license suspended and a lawsuit filed against her following a previous collision where she had stopped, Johnson said.

"Adrianna's family will never see her smile. Adrianna's family will never hear her laugh. Society will never experience any more of a bright, talented, thoughtful and beautiful young lady," Johnson wrote.

Garfinkle required multiple surgeries. His family is fighting their health insurance company over more than $200,000 owed in medical bills, according to the court documents.

[Updated at 3:14 p.m.: In court Monday, Garfinkle recounted how he awoke on a sidewalk after the hit-and-run crash that changed his life.

He said his bones were sticking out from his legs and blood was gushing from his abdomen. His limbs had been torn by glass, shards of which he picks out of scars to this day, he said.

“I was treated like an animal,” Garfinkle tearfully told a downtown Los Angeles court, saying he cannot walk across a street without experiencing flashbacks or a sense of dread. “I live every day in pain .… I have lost complete trust in others.”]

Cabrera, 31, who had no criminal record, lied to police in an effort to pin the blame on her husband, the prosecutor wrote, adding that "her morals are questionable and her heart callous."

The pair allegedly tried to cover up the crash by getting the car's windshield fixed before having the vehicle towed to Tijuana, Mexico. Luna, 34, promised police that he would return the car but never followed through, Johnson said.

Both pleaded no contest in March to a felony charge of hit-and-and run resulting in great bodily injury. Cabrera also pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter.

-- Jack Leonard

Photo: Josue Luna and Claudia Cabrera are led out of the courtroom after receiving the maximum sentence in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Photos: Tragedy at USC

Comments () | Archives (80)

This couple are true representatives of what is wrong in America. They are poster children of the scum that drives our streets. It is a shame that the maximum sentence was not life for the both of them. Thanks judge for giving them the max.
Now, let's get some of the drunks in the Sacramento legislature to increase sentences for drunk driving and driving drunk with injury and or death.

Both Claudia Cabrera and Josue Luna should rot in prison. I hope their experience will be long and miserable. I was kind of hoping there would be a trial, so if they're found guilty there, the judge would have given both an even harsher sentence.

Sadly the length of time of their incarceration is limited. Double or triple the sentence would be fitting for these callous, self serving loathsome individuals.

This sentence is far too weak for the crime. The DA should be ashamed that it took a plea bargain instead of really trying to get these two to pay for their crime. It is so easy to be a criminal in this country it's pathetic.

Please tell me that neither of the defendents will ever be allowed to have a drivers license ever again? Also, the law needs to be changed to allow for life sentences for hit and run/DUI crimes. Getting behind the wheel while drunk is criminal, and every one knows that it's dangerous, but when you do it anyway, you are acting in a criminal fashion towards other road users with basic intent to harm them. I'm glad these two were given a due punishment, but it's not enough. Not nearly.

The should've gotten even more.

these people are garbage too bad they didnt get more time for what they did disgusting

8 years? 7 years? For killing that poor girl and maiming that kid? WTF??? What a joke!! Are they even here legally?

The maximum sentence for killing someone with a car is only 8 years? That is not justice. With all of the laws and lawmakers in this state, we need someone to get passed a new law mandating much stronger sentences for this type of killing. People are more important than cars...

Justice is served.

I beleieve they should of got life, they killed someone with no remorse, for them to physically remove his body from the windsheild is unforgivable to anyone just imagine her poor mother dealing with this her hole life. I hope her mother gets thru this she looks very strong in interviews and I hope she stays strong, such a beautiful life taken for no reason, may you rest in peace beautiful angel. You will never be forgotten.

Hit and runs seem to becoming more prevalent. What does that say about the general state of our present culture, when one moment a married couple can be driving down the street, and the next moment, they're pulling their mangled victim out of the windshield and callously tossing him into the gutter? Our hearts have become seared over.

Finally. A just sentence!

God bless and healing of the hearts are wished for the parents of the young lady who past away and the young man who will by the grace of God, heal.

As for the husband wife team, they committed a criminal acts and should be sentenced as such. I feel bad for their family, especially the children.

Otherwise, these people got justice served for the hit and run and the inhumane way their young people were treated!

Only 8 years? Come On!

8 years huh? That's going to teach them life-long lessons about not running redlights; hitting pedestrians like bowling pins which ensued in the death of one of the two; dragging the other pedestrian on top of the car for 300 feet like he was an action movie star...

What a joke! Capital punishment is condign!!!

These scumbags annihilated an innocent girl's life and then went on to pry the broken body of a boy from their hood, throw him in the gutter, and speed away. And all they get is 8 and 7 years? I can maybe understand this light sentence if they had turned themselves in after realizing the gravity of their actions. But no, they made every effort to cover up evidence of their crime, and had to be hunted down by the police like the animals they are. I am so sickened by this sentencing; I've seen armed robbers do more time than this.

When will people understand that driving is a privelege and people's lives are at stake when laws are broken.

Not enough.

My heart goes out to the families of the victims. It's very obvious that these 2 creeps have no remorse and the only thing they are sorry about is that they got caught.

Both of these savages should have received life sentences.

These type of people make me sick. I hope they both rot in jail....hopefully in tijuana jail.

Only 8 years for killing a person! She will get out in 4-5 years. The court hands out longer sentences for possession of drugs. Thank You county court system.

Imagine what kind of offspring this husband and wife would have had. Too bad these scums can't be incarcerated until she is no longer of child bearing age.

Garbage in, Garbage out!! Glad the judge threw the garbage away.

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