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Anaheim woman gets 6 years for killing two sisters while driving drunk [Updated]

A 23-year-old Anaheim woman was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison for driving on the wrong side of the 91 Freeway in Yorba Linda while drunk, killing two sisters.

Jessica Lynn Shekell pleaded guilty in October to two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated and two other felony counts related to the October 2009 crash.

Prosecutors asked for a sentence of 13 years in prison, while Shekell’s attorney, Rudolph Loewenstein, asked for probation.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Fitzgerald sent Shekell to a 90-day diagnostic program operated by the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, during which she denied being an alcoholic. When the program was over, officials recommended that she go to prison.

Shekell had been drinking with friends in two bars in Placentia before the 3 a.m. accident Oct. 26, 2009. She drove a Toyota pickup onto the freeway at Gypsum Canyon Road, going east in westbound lanes, prosecutors said.

California Highway Patrol officers who saw Shekell driving about 50 mph on the wrong side of the freeway were trying to stop traffic when she slammed into a Chevrolet pickup driven by Sally Miguel.

Miguel, 49, and her sister, Patricia Miguel, 30, were killed in the crash, and their nieces, Mary Miguel, 16, and Sara Miguel, 12, suffered permanent injuries, said prosecutor Susan Price. [Updated at 7:57 a.m., March 10: A previous version of this post did not include Price's first name or position.]

Sally died at the scene. Patricia was transported to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, where she was pronounced dead shortly after 4:20 a.m., the district attorney's office said. The family members were driving home to San Bernardino after an evening at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Price said.

[For the record at 10:17 p.m.: A previous version of this post said Mary Miguel died at Western Medical Center. She was injured in the crash.]

Shekell had a blood alcohol level of 0.26%  Price said; the legal limit is 0.08%. Loewenstein said another test of the blood indicated it was 0.20%. Mary Miguel suffered a permanent hip injury and needs a cane, Price said. Sara has a scar on her stomach.

The Miguel family was disappointed with Fitzgerald’s ruling, said attorney Dara M. Khajavi, who is representing the family in a civil lawsuit against Shekell. The civil case is scheduled to go to trial in June, Khajavi said.

Fitzgerald lessened Shekell’s time in prison because the victims were not wearing seat belts. Price said that was irrelevant because none of them were ejected from the pickup, so the force of the collision would have caused the deaths anyway.

Price also noted that Shekell had been cited for underage drinking in 2009.

-- Nate Jackson


Music editor sentenced to one year for drunk-driving accident that killed 72-year-old


Comments () | Archives (21)

So that's the price of a life now. Three years. Blood alcohol at .26. "I'm not an alcoholic." Is that all she can say for herself? This is so disgusting it makes me sick.

Six years? Which probably translates into three! NO WONDER the senseless slaughter of innocent people continues on our highways. If our legislators are unwilling to make toughter drunk driving laws, we need new legislators. Think about it. I can't imagine a lighter sentence for someone who killed two innocent people!!! A life sentence is more in order!!!

Six years is NOTHING for murder. It is time California legislators started calling this crime what it is - MURDER - NOT manslaughter.

This is outrageous! Only 6 years for killing 2 people! Why society puts up with this is beyond me. Death by Drunk Driver is one of the highest causes of death in the US. This will never improve until there are much stiffer penalties for those who kill someone while under the influence of alchol or drugs.

Let's face it, the only reason she didn't get more time is that she's white. the guy that killed Adenhart and his friends was Latino and he got 51 years. I'm actually surprised she just didn't get handed probation.

How do you get ONLY 6 six years for KILLING two people?

Those two people did absolutely nothing wrong and now they are both gone.

And who cares if they weren't wearing a seatbelt, that would not matter if the DUI didn't slam into them.

Great justice system.

6 years for taking two lives and changing the lives of the other passengers and family.? What a joke! This is not justice, so sad to see. Hope when she gets out of prison in a few years we don't encounter her on the road.

"Mary Miguel suffered a permanent hip injury and needs a cane" - sucks for a 16 year old and while it is not her fault that she was in this terrible accident..... people, you got to wear your selt belts!!!!!!!!!!

so if she had admitted to being an alcoholic they would have given her a lighter sentence?" is that like when celebrities go to rehab after making racist comments and we let them off with a warning because they went to "rehab"..lol

her being an alcoholic should have no bearing on the case...i am sure plenty of non-alcoholics drive drunk in their lives.

This is complete bullsh%t. She kills 2 people and only gets 6 years because they weren't wearing a seatbelt? Well if she wasn't drunk and didn't get on the wrong side of the freeway it wouldn't of mattered that they weren't wearing their seatbelt because they would still be alive!! A few months back in anaheim there was another case where a baseball player and a passenger were killed. This guy got life in prison for that. I see how this works now... your life isn't as valuable than someone who is famous. He wasn't even all that famous. SMDH I hope the family settles this and takes all they can get from this . . . . .

Only six years ?

What a joke

Six years is not enough time. This person knew what she was doing when she got in her car. You know exactly what you are doing no matter how much alcohol you have had.

In some DUI cases when drumk drivers are close to the legal limit, are driving properly, and get in a an accident that was someone else's fault, I think the law should go somewhat easy on them.

In this case, the driver was severely intoxicated, presented a serious public hazard, and clearly caused the fatal crash. Six years seems like a very light sentence. Hopefully she will do close to hewr full time, and will never again in her life be issued a drivers license anywhere in the U.S.

Next time she kills people she'll get more than 6 years.
And with a blood alcohol of .26 & little, if any, awareness of her role in these deaths, there will be a next time.

It is not mentioned in this article, but when Jessica Shekell killed 2 people there were many, many photos of Jessica Shekell drunk and drinking on the internet. Her myspace status was listed as "thirsty" when she killed the Miguels. Those photos have all been removed from the internet.

So why was Andrew Gallo, the drunk driver who killed the Angel's pitcher Adenhardt and a friend given over 50 years for also drunk driving the same charge here??? Because the victim is white and he's Hispanic? Or in this case the two sisters are Hispanic and the drunk is white?? Just making some observations, pathetic system... What a disgrace from the prosecutor, to defendant's lawyer to the jury, to the judge. Kill 2 people, injure 2 permanently and you go home in 3 years, WOW....

.26? No difference than permeditated murder. A person that drunk who gets in a car makes a choice to potentially kill someone...just like a murderer and deserves the same punishment.

What an outrageous perversion of justice. Basically 1 1/2 years per life taken. This is the kind of situation that demand eye-for-an-eye justice. Strap this drunk into a car and send an unmanned vehicle going 50mph straight at her. Hey, whatever happens happens.

WOWWWWW, 6 years for killing 2 people while driving drunk??? Are you serious??? I have nothing else to say on this!

To ndirish: its because the victim, Adenhardt, was a celebrity.

More people are killed each year by drunk drivers than guns. Something's really wrong that we can't deal with the real problem and really throw the book at people who kill with alcohol.


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