Music editor sentenced to one year for drunk-driving accident that killed 72-year-old
Mark David Skillingberg, who worked on the music for "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" and "Vampire Diaries," pleaded no contest to one count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence. As part of his plea agreement, he also received five years probation and mandatory alcohol education classes.
Skillingberg, 32, was driving eastbound on Pico Boulevard near Veteran Avenue on Oct. 27, 2009, when he crashed into the driver's-side door of Gebregziabher Gabremadhin, killing him instantly, Deputy Dist. Atty. Stefana Antonescu said.
Skillingberg's blood alcohol level was .16, twice the legal limit, and he was driving about 20 miles above the speed limit, Antonescu said.
But Skillingberg has no criminal record and accident reconstructionists later determined that Gabremadhin was trying to make an illegal U-turn at the time of the accident. The district attorney's office ultimately offered a plea agreement since a trial "would likely reach the same result," Antonescu said.
If Skillingberg completes his probation without incident, the felony charge can eventually be reduced to a misdemeanor and expunged from his record.
On Friday, friends and family members packed a courtroom at the Airport Courthouse to plead for a harsher sentence and to remember Gabremadhin, an Ethiopian immigrant they described as a hardworking family man.
"This man just snatched my dad from my life," said a weeping Mona Gabremadhin. "If you kill a person, you should spend more than a few months in jail."
Her brother, Michael Gabremadhin, also addressed the judge and asked, "If you have money does that mean you can get away with this?" And to Skillingberg: "This judge is not the ultimate judge. There is God, and you should fear him."
Judge Katherine Mader expressed sympathy for the victim's family but referenced a probation report that concluded that Skillingberg was not a danger to the community and will learn from the experience.
"Mr. Skillingberg was obviously drunk and he made the decision to drive," she said. "But he is not going unpunished."
-- Shan Li
Map shows location of the car accident that killed Gebregziabher Gabremadhin. Source: Google Maps